A clinician cares for COVID-19 patients in a Louisiana ICU.

On the basis of anonymity, Insider spoke with a Louisiana nurse who worked through Hurricane Ida.
Hospitals often discharge or move patients before a hurricane, but Ida’s size and COVID-19 meant they were full when the storm hit.
Hospital check-ins included storm victims, COVID-19 patients, and people just trying to charge phones – creating even further COVID-19 risk.
This is the nurse’s story, as told to Elle Hardy.

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On the condition of anonymity, a Louisiana nurse spoke with Insider about their experiences as Hurricane Ida hit their hospital, which was already overwhelmed by COVID-19. This is their story, as told to Elle Hardy.

Before COVID-19 was an issue, I’d gone through numerous hurricanes as a nurse here in Louisiana.

The usual protocol when we know a storm is coming is that we need to evacuate people. A situation like Hurricane Ida would see the hospital discharge almost everybody, or transfer them to other facilities. Before COVID-19, we would get the census down to a minuscule number. You’d have an empty ER and 90% of employees sitting around waiting for the influx of patients.

However, you can’t do that if everyone within a four-hour radius of you is getting damage from the storm too. You also can’t transfer people if everyone within a reasonable distance is also full because of COVID-19.

That meant my hospital was at full census before the storm hit. It looked as though the hospital hadn’t done anything to prepare, and we were working our butts off.

We were watching the news until the cable went out, which usually means there are probably power outages. We started getting hundreds of calls from emergency services asking if we had beds, and we didn’t. Consider that a lot of phone services were cutting out too, and a lot of calls weren’t getting through to emergency services.

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Then we started seeing patients in the hallway.

The reason people come to hospital in hurricanes is not what you’d think

During a hurricane, you do see some people coming in because they’ve been hit by falling debris, but my hospital is not the trauma center. Most of what we see after a storm is the side effects of not having infrastructure, such as power or water.

For instance, we had numerous people coming in trying to get dialysis, because you can’t do dialysis without clean water and you can’t sacrifice what little clean water you have. They might usually go to a neighborhood clinic, but these things are closed.

We also saw a lot of people who use oxygen coming in with shortness of breath, or those with heat-related injuries or exacerbations of chronic illness.

When the power goes out, it’s suddenly a big deal that mom can’t get out of bed because it’s 100 degrees in the house. She’s sweating. You’re sweating. You can’t keep her clean; she’s uncomfortable. We saw a lot of admissions because people’s caretakers couldn’t provide care …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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