Louisiana hits record COVID-19 hospitalizations for a week; Ochsner physicians fill nursing gaps

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Louisiana has reported a new record of COVID-19 hospitalizations every day for a week amid a surge of the virus, news station WVUE Fox 8 News reported Aug. 10.

On Aug. 10, the state reported 2,859 COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

This breaks previous records of 2,112 (Aug. 3), 2,247 (Aug. 4), 2,350 (Aug. 5), 2,421 (Aug. 6), and 2,720 (Aug. 9), according to WVUE. Before Aug. 3, the previous record reported by the state was 2,069 on Jan. 7.

State Health Officer and Medical Director Joseph Kanter, MD, told the Louisiana Board of Regents that the numbers are "shocking" and that he "would expect more aggressive mitigation measures to be considered if we do not peak within the one- or two-week timeframe," according to WVUE.

Amid the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Louisiana health systems are grappling with staffing shortages.

At New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, physicians are training alongside nurses in non-COVID-19 intensive care units to help address these shortages, WDSU reported Aug. 10.

"My white coat came off. My scrubs went on, and I was David," David Houghton, MD, vice chair of Ochsner's department of neurology, told the news station. "The hierarchies disappear."

Dr. Houghton told WDSU that the physicians helping, including himself, who largely work in outpatient settings, are "recognizing that the time may come soon where some of those nurses have to leave those units, go into the COVID units and now you have other providers that are better qualified and at least have more of an idea of how they can help."

Also in New Orleans, LCMC Health has canceled or postponed many elective surgeries to free up workers amid the COVID-19 surge, Jeffrey Elder, MD, an emergency medicine physician, told WDSU.

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