SWLA hospitals see increase in ER visits due to storm cleanup

SWLA hospitals see increase in ER visits due to storm cleanup

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Many across Southwest Louisiana are eager to get their homes and businesses cleaned up after Hurricane Laura, but choosing to do the work yourself rather than hiring a professional can be dangerous if you’re not careful.

Some Lake area hospitals, like Christus St. Patrick, are seeing an increase in emergency room visits in relation to storm cleanup. Now, they want to make sure community members know basic safety precautions and when to seek emergency care.

Candice Thibodeaux, emergency services clinical director for Christus Ochsner SWLA, says so far they’ve seen patients who have stepped on nails, fell from tall structures or ladders and even experienced heat exhaustion.

She says the most common thing they’re seeing is people coming in with serious cuts.

“When walking around the debris and cleaning up the tin that’s been coming off of people’s roofs and structures has had a tendency to just kind of grab people’s legs,” Thibodeaux said. “So we’ve seen a lot of lower extremity lacerations that we’ve had to do some simple repairs on and a lot of like I said tetanus administration.”

Thibodeaux says, there are steps you should take if you are cut while you’re out working.

"Definitely for any puncture wounds or lacerations, we want you to hold pressure. Put an appropriate bandage on the wound to stop the bleeding, she said. “Then I would proceed to the emergency department especially if your tetanus shot is not up to date.”

Depending on the severity of your wound, Thibodeaux says you may require an additional tetanus shot even if you are up to date.

One of the safest ways to get your home back in order might be to hire professional contractors who should have the tools and gear to get everything done safely.

Zach Evans traveled from Panama City Beach with his family’s company, Simmonds Contracting Services, to help out.

He explains what it takes for them to remain as safe as possible on the job.

“Harnesses, we’ve got harness ropes as well so that we don’t fall off,” Evans said. “We’re all wearing steel toed special shoes, and helmets. Obviously nobody wants to fall off a roof.”

Evans and his team also use a lift rather than ladders to lower their chances of falling from high surfaces.

If you do choose to take matters into your own hands, Thibodeaux says there’s a very important thing to keep in mind.

“When you are cleaning, especially when you are welcoming guests and cleaning as a group we want to make sure that you’re trying to social distance as much as you can,” Thibodeaux said. “And, that you’re still wearing a mask even when you’re indoors. I know that it’s hot but COVID hasn’t taken a break just because Hurricane Laura passed through.”

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