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Ochsner Fully Evacuates Several Bayou Area Hospitals, Expects Significant Hurricane Ida Damage

Ochsner St. Anne
Photo Courtesy Ochsner Health System
Ochsner's St. Anne Hospital in Raceland, Louisiana.


Five hospitals have been or are being evacuated in Louisiana as of 2 PM on Monday following the devastating Hurricane Ida, which hit as a Category 4 storm, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Those hospitals include St. Charles Parish Hospital, Our Lady of the Sea, St. Anne Hospital in Raceland and Chabert Medical Center in Houma, Terrebonne General Health System and Chabert Hospital, all healthcare facilities located near the coast in Louisiana, are moving their patients.

At least 200 patients between those hospitals are being moved to locations in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Morgan City, among other places. The facilities are smaller Tier 1 hospitals, meaning they’re typical hospitals with emergency rooms. Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer, said no major Tier 1 hospitals are evacuating at this time.

— Original Post —

After Hurricane Ida slammed into the Southeastern Louisiana coast as a Category 4 storm Sunday, some facilities in one of Louisiana’s largest hospital systems — Ochsner Health — will need to fully evacuate dozens of patients after some facilities experienced flooding, roof damage and generator failures.

St. Anne Hospital in Raceland and Chabert Medical Center in Houma will need to move collectively around sixty patients. Meanwhile, the emergency rooms will remain open. Officials said there are only a few critical need patients that need to be moved and only one mother and baby pair. Most patients that will need to be moved are adults.

Officials said they expect that they can transfer all patients to facilities within the Ochsner Health System, but will need to wait until early Monday, when winds are likely to dip below 40 mph, to allow safe transport.

“Compared to other storms that we have gone through, we are more full and our capacity is limited because of the number of COVID-19 patients that we’re caring for,” Mike Hulefeld, Ochsner Health’s chief operating officer, said.

Officials said that there had been a decrease in COVID-19 patients from the week prior, down from about 950 patients to 750 patients. While the number of patients is still a strain on hospital capacity, there are no worries that the storm will affect their ability to keep providing care to patients.

In a press briefing on Sunday night, Warner Thomas, the president and CEO of Ochsner Health said most facilities in and around New Orleans, Baton Rouge, New Orleans’ Northshore and the coastal areas have had to switch over to generator power. Around 7 p.m. Sunday, Entergy, the local utility for the greater New Orleans area, said that all of Orleans parish was without power.

“We’ve had windows blown out, we’ve lost pieces of roof,” Thomas said.

At St. Anne Hospital, Thomas said the need to move patients stems from a penthouse over one of the hospital’s elevators getting blown off the building. In using another elevator to get around the damage, it created a water intrusion. St. Anne expects the evacuation to occur by early Monday morning when winds and roadways are safe enough for transportation.

Ochsner evacuated St. Charles Parish Hospital Sunday morning, moving 35 patients a few hours away to three other locations. Ochsner officials said they made the decision as they watched the storm's track move east Saturday as a precautionary move based on the rise in risk to the facility.

“There's roof damage because we've got these sustained 80, 90, 100-mile-an-hour winds for quite some period of time,” Thomas said. “This one slowed down more than anybody would have anticipated.”

Additionally, officials say that due to damages from fast-moving winds that were still as high as 100 mph into Sunday evening and significant power issues, most facilities had to start using well water. The change to well water should last for a significant amount of time, with the hospital having enough fuel in its generators to last for at least 10 days. Generator failures at some facilities were quickly resolved.

Shalina Chatlani is the health care reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between NPR, WWNO in New Orleans, WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama and MPB-Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson.
Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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