September 2, 2021
The Effects of Hurricane Ida on Health Care Systems Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic
The images of the devastation in Southern Louisiana have served as a stark reminder of the challenges we faced during Hurricane Katrina, exactly 16 years ago. Except this time, we are also battling a virulent pandemic on top of the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Members of our community and health care systems have welcomed our neighbors from nearby regions into our homes, offices, and hospitals, and at Hattiesburg Clinic, we aim to accommodate and provide medical care and resources to those who have been uprooted from their homes and home medical facilities.
We performed COVID tests over 400 patients this past weekend and through Monday as we opened up facilities as quickly as the storm would allow. Many of the positive COVID cases were able to be treated with monoclonal antibodies, and this undoubtedly had a significant impact on the number of patients who would have otherwise sought care in an emergency room or deteriorated at home. Our dialysis units have assumed the care of several Louisiana patients over the last few days, and we will certainly see an influx of other patients needing care for their chronic medical issues and/or refills on their prescriptions as their home medical facilities begin the recovery process. It can certainly be difficult to even contemplate how our already-strained medical system can handle additional stressors. Thankfully, we are seeing some signs of hope regarding the fourth wave of COVID.
Here are a few updates regarding COVID numbers:
- During the week of Aug. 22, positive cases throughout Hattiesburg Clinic were down to slightly less than 700 (following a peak of 1042 during the week of Aug. 8). This is an encouraging trend; however, it is still important to remember that the Delta strain remains highly contagious, and we continue to see large numbers of new cases in children under 12 and in unvaccinated teenagers and adults.
- Monoclonal antibody therapy capacity has drastically improved. With the help of the state-deployed paramedics and our partnership with the Mississippi Department of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and KPMG, Hattiesburg Clinic provided over 400 patients with this therapy last week, and most patients received their treatment within 24 hours of their COVID diagnosis. As a reminder, monoclonal antibody therapy has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of COVID-related hospitalization and death by 70% and reduce the average number of days a patient has symptoms from 14 to 10. Many patients who are 12 years old and older qualify for this therapy; for further details on criteria, please click here. You may book your own appointment for this therapy through Iris, regardless of where you were tested, as long you provide proof of your positive test that occurred in the last 10 days, it’s been less than 10 days since symptom onset, and you have a qualifying medical condition.
- Vaccination efforts continue, and our HealthWorks team is visiting several local schools again this week and churches over the next several weekends while also continuing to vaccinate hundreds of patients every day at their new location on Medical Boulevard. To date, over 42,000 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered throughout Hattiesburg Clinic and the HealthWorks partnership with Forrest General Hospital, and we remain thankful to everyone who has received a dose to help protect themselves and our community. In the last 2 weeks, Pfizer has received full FDA approval for their vaccine in patients 16 and older, and patients 12-15 may continue to be vaccinated under Emergency Use Authorization. Moderna and J&J are also available at the HealthWorks Immunization Clinic, and these two options are likewise in many Hattiesburg Clinic primary care offices.
We continue to closely monitor the information coming from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and vaccine manufacturers regarding expansion of boosters beyond the immunocompromised population. Please continue to check our website and social media for updates.
As we move into September, please also remember to get your annual flu shot. All Hattiesburg Clinic primary care locations will be receiving their allocations in the next few weeks, so please don’t forget this important preventive care measure for everyone 6 months of age and older. In the wake of a Category 4 hurricane, it can be difficult to stay on top of our health, even with the simplest and most routine things like getting a flu shot and taking regular medications; however, with hospitals stretched beyond capacity, it is crucial to not let these basic tasks fall behind.
Closing out this week’s update on another positive note, I want to congratulate and thank our Epic team for receiving the Gold Stars 10 designation this year once again. This award was announced last week, and Hattiesburg Clinic was one of only six organizations worldwide to achieve this high mark, showing once more the dedication to using the software to its fullest potential for patient care and end-user satisfaction. Messages like this one and tools like self-scheduling through Iris would not be possible without such a great team of individuals who are diligently working behind the scenes to help our organization, patients, and community.
Thank you for your continued support during this time as we weather the effects of the hurricane and Covid-19.
Bryan N. Batson, MD
Chief Executive Officer
Hattiesburg Clinic, PA