Fourth COVID surge putting strain on Lake Area hospitals

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 8:28 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Health leaders at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital explain that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the original virus, leading to more hospitalizations.

Experts tell us the original variant had a transmission rate of infecting two people per case, but now, the Delta variant is moving more rapidly.

“It has an RO-variant of about eight, as which means that if I get that variant, whether I’m vaccinated or not, I’m likely to transmit it to up to eight other people,” Gerald Bryant, chief nursing officer and COO for LCMH, said.

Bryant said the majority of the new cases are of the unvaccinated, and patients needing hospitalization now are younger than they were during the spike this time last year.

“Primarily, the Delta variant in our region has evolved. This is proving to be a disease of the younger,” Bryant said. “A large number of the patients who are coming to the E.R.’s, ending up in the hospitals, are in their 30s 40s and 50s.”

Bryant says with overwhelming hospitalizations, emergency nursing staff is having to work over. He said the nurses at LCMH now have mandatory overtime of 12 hours per pay period, in addition to having to take on a nearly 50% increase of patients per nurse.

“It actually causes a concept of moral distress for our nurses,” Bryant said. “That they’ve been educated and trained and committed to providing a certain standard of care, and they physically can’t get it all done.”

A lot of strain on hospital staff and resources with case numbers increasing and ICU beds filling up. Bryant said if this trend continues, there will be longer waits and less room for other types of emergency hospital situations.

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