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Louisiana officials and healthcare leaders join forces to build back stronger following Hurricane Ida and COVID-19 fourth surge

Louisiana officials and healthcare leaders join forces to build back stronger following Hurricane Ida and COVID-19 fourth surge

Hardest hit hospitals request immediate federal funding assistance

Ochsner Health and LCMC Health, two of Louisiana’s largest health systems and private employers, are working collaboratively with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and other national and state officials to discuss critical funding and federal support needs across the state. Top officials from Ochsner and LCMC Health will join Governor Edwards in Washington D.C. this week to discuss critical recovery needs including funding to rebuild and strengthen the state’s healthcare infrastructure due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic and damage from Hurricane Ida.

The visit to our nation’s capitol comes just over three weeks after the catastrophic Category 4 hurricane hit southeast Louisiana, leaving more than one million people without power and tens of thousands of homes and businesses uninhabitable. The delegation of healthcare leaders will meet with Louisiana’s Congressional delegation, the White House, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to request immediate federal financial assistance for hospitals directly impacted by Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida’s arrival coincided with COVID-19’s “Fourth Surge,” which shattered the state’s case and hospitalization numbers. After being one of the first and hardest hit states by COVID-19 in spring 2020, Louisiana again became a global hot spot as the highly contagious Delta variant spread throughout the region. On August 29, 2021, Ochsner was caring for 765 COVID-19 patients across its facilities when Hurricane Ida made landfall. LCMC Health had over 270 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

Thousands of community members impacted by Hurricane Ida remain displaced and in shelters. Storm damage has also led to limitations in COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and delays in medical care. Ochsner Health delayed more than 6,000 surgeries and procedures due to space and staffing constraints caused by COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida. In early August, LCMC Health cancelled all elective surgeries requiring an overnight stay due to staffing constraints.

With hospitals and care teams stretched thin due to COVID-19 coupled with patient evacuations, severely damaged facilities and emergency pay and assistance for essential healthcare workers following Hurricane Ida, Louisiana hospitals are requesting federal funding to offset significant economic losses. Federal support for hospitals is critical to restoring healthcare services in the hardest hit communities impacted by Hurricane Ida.

“Louisiana has experienced tremendous challenges and loss over the last eighteen months from COVID-19, Hurricane Ida and the seven hurricanes to make landfall along our coast last year. At Ochsner Health, we are working tirelessly to restore life-saving healthcare services to our communities and support our thousands of healthcare heroes and community members rebuild. Together, with Governor Edwards, we implore our leaders to provide critical federal funding to our hospitals and build a stronger and healthier Louisiana,” said Warner L. Thomas, President and CEO, Ochsner Health.

“Two public health and humanitarian crises collided at the same time this summer – the fourth surge of COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida. Our state and our health systems are strong, and we responded quickly to meet the needs of our employees and our community. We are laser focused on the short and long-term recovery of our state, and alongside the Governor will be advocating strongly for federal resources to support these efforts as we navigate this challenging time for Louisiana. We are proud to lead the way for these critical resources to come to fruition,” said Greg Feirn, CEO of LCMC Health.