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Ida brings more challenges for Louisiana hospitals already struggling with a Covid surge.

todayAugust 31, 2021 3

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After Hurricane Ida lashed Louisiana on Sunday, hospitals in the storm’s path were assessing building damage, bracing for storm-related injuries and determining how to continue Covid-19 care this week, all while being forced to run on generators for at least several days.

“Our hospital is at capacity,” said Ryan Cross, a spokesman for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, which was busy treating its estimated 150 coronavirus patients Monday night, as well as people with storm-related injuries. “But we were very blessed that the storm did not deliver the impacts that we feared.”

The good fortune did not extend to several hospitals across the state, where a surge of Covid cases fueled by the Delta variant and low vaccination rates led to more than 2,400 people being hospitalized with coronavirus on Sunday, when Ida spurred evacuations in some health centers.

After a partial generator failure at Thibodaux Regional Health System in Lafourche Parish, staff had to manually push air in and out of patients’ lungs to keep them breathing while they were transferred to another floor in the hospital, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Oxygen supplies were also running critically low in several hospitals, with some having only one or two days of supply left as of Monday.

Ochsner Health, which operates Louisiana’s most extensive hospital network, evacuated 165 patients on Monday from three hospitals where roofs were damaged and water came down the walls, said Warner Thomas, the hospitals’ president and C.E.O.

“We have 10 days of fuel on site,” Mr. Thomas said, referring to the hospital generators. “More fuel is on its way. Water is on its way.”

Dr. Joseph Kanter, the chief health officer in Louisiana, said on Monday that major hospitals appeared to have suffered minor damage and a few smaller hospitals “suffered significant damage” and were evacuating on Monday.

“Hospitals will be busy next few days,” Dr. Kanter said on Twitter. “Avoid them if possible.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Sunday that a significant number of residents who had not evacuated included hospitalized coronavirus patients.

“Evacuating these large hospitals is just not an option because there’s not any other hospitals with the capacity to take them,” he said.

And though the cleanup and repairs will stretch for weeks and months, as the state scrambles to restore power and water, the situation could have been much worse. At Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Lafourche Parish, the staff worked “tirelessly under extreme conditions” to care for patients said Karen Collins, the chief executive of the hospital. “Because of their efforts, all of our patients came through this event safely.”

Amanda Morris and Giulia Heyward contributed reporting.

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todayAugust 31, 2021