COVID-19 hospitalizations in SWLA steady as cases continue to rise

COVID-19 hospitalizations in SWLA steady as cases continue to rise

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -As those numbers climb across the state, Southwest Louisiana has not reached the high hospitalization rate seen back in the summer. Hospitalizations may not be at their peak in Southwest Louisiana, but providers say that doesn’t mean it’s time for people to stop taking precautions.

We’re in what many are calling wave 3 of the pandemic in Louisiana, but for now, hospitalizations in region 5 are holding steady.

“The numbers have kind of plateaued. We’re kind of staying in the upper 80s to lower 90s in terms of hospitalized patients in the region,” says Dr. Timothy Haman, Chief Medical Officer for Christus Health SWLA. “Unfortunately it’s not going down, but thankfully it’s not going up like we are seeing in other regions across the state.”

Healthcare providers in the lake area tell people to keep in mind, the current numbers don’t reflect the potential spread of covid-19 during the holidays.

“We’ve not yet seen the real impact of Christmas and New Year’s,” says Gerard Bryant, Chief Nursing Officer for Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. “That saying, we have not yet seen the real impact of Christmas and New Year’s. That being said, we have things that weren’t available until after Thanksgiving when you talk about things like monoclonal antibodies and now we have vaccination programs.”

On Friday, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital has 27 COVID-positive patients and 12 more in their critical care unit. Gerard says that’s fewer hospitalized patients than they had in July.

“We’re not in the same situation as we were then, we’re probably, I think our high was in the upper 50s, about 60 patients a day at that point of time, and we did have to take on a second unit and we did get up to about 25 patients there in the critical care unit so we’re not there.’

West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital has 15 hospitalized COVID patients, with a full ICU.

“Our ICU is a 12-bed ICU. 9 of those patients are COVID-positive,” says Chief Nursing Officer, Brian Thompson. “The rest of them are COVID pending, that’s in ICU right now. We do have capacity out on our COVID unit, out on one of the floors to take some more patients. so we’re prepared for this.”

Memorial, as well as other hospitals in the region, say they are prepared if another surge like the one in the summer were to happen again.

“We do have plans to expand our capability,” Dr. Haman says. “The big rate leavening step right now is nurses. You know, we have rooms that we can potentially expand but we’d need help from some more nurses. We’d have to redeploy some people and redeploy some staff. We do have contingency plans for that sort of thing. We just hope we don’t have to use them.”

Area hospitals give several reasons why numbers are lower in Southwest Louisiana than other regions in the state, including nursing homes still being closed as a result of the hurricanes.

They do ask the community to remain diligent with pandemic practices.

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