SWLA hospitals prepare for future storms

Hurricane Season 2022: Staying Strong
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 8:01 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Frontline workers are some of the true unsung heroes of our community, especially during hurricane season.

But in the middle of a pandemic in 2020, they faced two major hurricanes.

So, how are three area hospitals and health systems, CHRISTUS Ochsner SWLA, Lake Charles Memorial Health System and West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, preparing for the next storm after what they learned following the 2020 hurricanes?

“Our patients are number one, priority,” said Geoff Landry, director of emergency management at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.

“We’re resilient, probably out of necessity, but probably because of who we are in Southwest Louisiana,” said Jim Davidson, president, and C.O.O. of CHRISTUS Ochsner SWLA.

“We’re here to take care of Southwest Louisiana. These folks that we take care of, our friends and neighbors, they’re our family,” said Dr. Gerald Bryant, chief nursing officer, and C.O.O. of Lake Charles Memorial.

Three hospitals, one goal: caring for the people of Southwest Louisiana.

So what have our local hospitals learned and put into place over the past two years?

“Ability to quickly set up, respond really in and first and foremost, anticipate when events such as this might happen and being able to set up water farms on-site generators and so forth at a moment’s notice was a really, really big takeaway for us,” said Davidson.

“We partnered up with a company that does mitigation and restoration, so we’re basically at a situation where we can have a one-stop-shop where we could foresee needing those resources instead of calling various agencies and try to bring him in one by one. We can make a phone call and have the majority of those provisions in our parking lot and a quick, quick amount of time,” said Landry.

“To drill to review your systems for emergency preparedness and just make sure you’re ready. It’s really not here on the gulf coast. It’s really not if it’s when you’re going to have to be prepared to deal with the hurricane in our community,” said Bryant.

Officials at all three hospitals agree, that being proactive is key.

“Don’t wait till the storm you know gets into the Gulf of Mexico, or you know it’s knocking on the back door. Be thinking about those things year-round ‘cause it’s going to take some planning and you want to be able to pull that trigger when you need to and be able to move safely and comfortably,” said Landry.

To patients, they advise always having at least a 30-day supply of any medication and keeping a list of your prescriptions and dosages in case you have to go to an unfamiliar hospital or doctor.

“Just have all of those things ticked and tidy before the storms come,” said Davidson.

If you have serious medical needs and can evacuate, do so as early as possible.

“That’s the goal is to get everybody out of the area so we don’t end up in search and rescue missions, or having an unnecessary you know amount of people in a particular place that you know you may run into some issues being able to take care of,” said Landry.

Even in the chaotic few years health care workers have had, they say they are always ready to serve.

“Everyone knows what their responsibility is and at the end of the day, we and it’s not just Memorial. I know that our other healthcare systems in Southwest Louisiana believe the same thing. We’re part of the infrastructure of the community. It’s more about being prepared to provide care for people in less than ideal situations as the community begins to re-populate and people begin to come home,” said Bryant.

Repairs at all three hospitals are complete, but they say they continue to make improvements to best ensure patients in Southwest Louisiana are taken care of.

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