NEW ORLEANS — We are now learning that the rise in COVID cases at local hospitals, is causing surgeries, that require a hospital stay, to be limited or cancelled.
Doctors say COVID patients are filling the beds, and straining the medical staff.
The swift spread of COVID cases among unvaccinated people is putting the squeeze on health care.
“Those are really sad cases. People are being admitted to the hospital wishing they have been vaccinated,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Elder, the Medical Director of Emergency Management at LCMC Health, who is also an emergency medicine physician at LSU Health Sciences Center.
LCMC runs six of the largest hospitals in the area and the patient numbers have jumped there. Monday 105 COVID patients in the ICU and in hospital beds. Three weeks, ago just 10 patients.
“Our hospitals are stressed with the amount of patients that are coming in, our EDs are strained with the amount of people coming in, and that's across the state.”
Friday we first told you that at Ochsner-Baptist, uptown, starting Monday, the number of in-patient surgeries are now limited to five a day. LCMC hospitals are now doing the same. Beginning Thursday, all non-essential, inpatient procedures are suspended. Doctors have been warning us and remind us the delta variant is more contagious. Still, patients are surprised when they catch it.
“I think people think it can't happen to me. I can tell you, if you're unvaccinated, you are absolutely at risk and it can happen to you,” warned Dr. Elder.
Doctors say vaccinated people should be reassured that the shots are protecting them from serious illness. The small number of vaccinated who get very sick, are mostly people with weakened immune systems who can't make a lot of antibodies when they get the vaccine. Those are the very elderly, transplant patients and people on immunotherapy. Doctors are looking into the possibility of a booster for them.
“This is why vaccines are important, because what it will do, it will ultimately keep the overall amount of virus that is in the community, at a lower level,” he said.
Expect cases to go up. Even if unvaccinated people get a vaccine today, it will take five weeks for them to mount maximum immunity. Still, he says our way out of this is to get the shot and go back to mask wearing. Some unvaccinated people are still concerned the vaccines were not tested in enough people, but Dr. Elder says more than 300 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna have been given safely in the U.S alone.