Local COVID hospitalizations rise, but ICU numbers not as high as previous surges

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:38 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - While the Omicron variant is causing a rise locally in the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, ICU numbers are not as high as in past surges, hospital officials say.

“Our admission census continues to increase with this latest Omicron variant. We have not seen, however, the level of acuity and the ICU demand as we had experienced during the Delta variant surge,” Dr. Manley Jordan, pulmonologist and Chief Medical Officer at Lake Charles Memorial Health System, said in a statement.

“Our biggest challenge is staffing. We are currently at a critical staffing level due to the number of employees we have out with COVID-19. It has been especially challenging for our Behavioral Health Unit where we have temporarily had to cease accepting behavioral health admissions due to this staffing shortage.”

COVID hospitalizations in Region 5 (Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis) reached 107 Friday, the highest number since the 157 reached on Sept. 4 during the Delta surge.

Some areas of the world have reported that COVID hospitalization counts during the Omicron surge include more patients who are in the hospital for other reasons but tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Tim Haman, Chief Medical Officer, said Christus Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana is seeing that to an extent, but that most COVID patients are being admitted for COVID-related reasons.

“CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, like Region 5 and the majority of the country,” Haman said in a statement. “We are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and emergency room visits. We have also seen an increase of cases in patients admitted for other issues who test positive for COVID; however, the majority of COVID patients in our hospitals were admitted for COVID-related issues.

“While it is too soon to draw conclusions on the long-term risks and effects of Omicron, this variant appears to be highly transmissible but less likely to cause lower respiratory tract symptoms and severe disease.

“We strongly encourage our communities to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors” Haman continued. “Though there is still much to be learned about Omicron and other variants, we do know that the most effective tools against this and all COVID-19 remain the same:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands often
  • Practice social distancing
  • Stay home if you are sick

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital released the following statement:

“West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital administers COVID testing on all patients as a precautionary safety measure upon admission. As a result, we have seen some patients who test positive for COVID that are being admitted for other healthcare needs.

“WCCH continues to see an increase in COVID positivity rates. As of Thursday (1/13), our positivity rate, which is the number of positive cases divided by total tests administered, was 45.8% for the week of January 10, compared to 2.6% for the week of November 29.

“WCCH continues to encourage our community to wash their hands often, stay home if you’re sick, and consider receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or booster (if eligible) if you have not already done so.”

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