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Local hospitals prepare for second holiday surge



MONROE, La. – With the recent holidays, many people are concerned how hospitals will handle another surge of COVID-19 patients.

Hospital bed capacity is a big worry when it comes to COVID-19. Medical officials at Oschner LSU Health Monroe and St. Francis Medical Center said they have not been overwhelmed so far.

“Every single day, every morning, we huddle and have a meeting, actually with our North Louisiana system. And that I think has some advantage in terms of being able to look at capacities, but we’ve been blessed in both campuses that we are able to take care of everyone thus far,” Mark Randolph said, CEO at Ochsner LSU Health Monroe.

“Any day can be a little bit different than the day before. But, we’ve not seen our capacity change. It’s just the types of patients in the building change,” Kristin Wolkart said, President at St. Francis Medical Center.

With so many people affected by the virus, the ICU beds in our local hospitals are continuously occupied.

“The ICU beds have been full regardless of whether it’s COVID or non-COVID within all of Northeast Louisiana Region 8. The acuity, the sickness of the patients in our community, has been very high, so most of the ICU beds in our community have been full for weeks,” Wolkart said.

Hospitals want to assure the community there is still room for patients, and there are no staff shortages.

“We’re fortunate we can take care of everyone. Our census has been high. If you look at the post-Thanksgiving surge, I think every healthcare system has experienced it. It stays very high, but then again we take care of everyone. We’ve been fortunate not to turn anyone away,” Randolph said.

“Certainly, we’re concerned that the trend with holidays that we may see more COVID patients. I don’t think it’s anything we want the community to worry about hospitals not having beds for them if they get sick. That’s certainly not an issue right now,” Wolkart said.