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Ventilators in SWLA: Where local hospitals stand

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 10:15 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The state says 1,355 people are hospitalized in the state and 438 of those people are on ventilators. So — where do local hospitals stand? Do we have enough ventilators?

“We want to reiterate again and again and again and again how important social distancing is. Every time I leave the hospitals and I see parking lots full, it scares me to death. I can promise you, if those people could see some of the people on ventilators? They’d be staying at home," Dr. Ben Thompson, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, said.

Thompson said these machines help patients breathe.

“We put a plastic tube through their mouth and into their windpipe. It goes past their vocal cords and they are no longer able to speak. Which is certainly uncomfortable for them. At that point, the ventilator delivers oxygen, or air, to that patient," Thompson said.

While hospitals across the U.S. have a desperate need for ventilators, Thompson said Memorial is doing fine for now.

“It’s in the realm of possibility that we could be overwhelmed. At the moment, we’re not even near that point. If you have 100 people come in all at once, we don’t have enough ventilators for that. If you have two or three come in today, three or four come in the next day — we can manage that sort of thing," Thompson said.

Other local hospitals are also doing okay right now. Christus Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital says they have plenty available at the moment, but are prepared to use other options if necessary.

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital said they have an adequate supply and they have contingency plans in place should the need for more ventilators arise.

In order to help out hospitals, Thompson said now more than ever people should be abiding by social distancing recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus.

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