hrough both the pandemic and the hurricanes, leaders at CHRISTUS Oschner understood the importance of local healthcare. “We’ve always tried to be the best community partner, and in a year where healthcare was one of the most important services, we learned that our nurses and frontline healthcare workers are some of the bravest people around,” said Kevin Holland, President and CEO of CHRISTUS Ochsner Health SWLA.
“We’ve always had processes in place for infection control – and this year was no different – but the pandemic shined an even brighter light on those processes and ensured we excel in patient safety. This means we keep our associates safe as well. Last year was about being prepared for anything thrown our way. We adjusted when patients couldn’t have visitors.
We became patient advocates as well as caregivers.
We understood the importance of being available for care before, during and after the hurricanes. The biggest thing we learned from 2020 is to expect the unexpected and to stay two steps ahead.”
The pandemic and hurricanes
prompted CHRISTUS Oschner to look at some things differently, for example, their supply needs. “We were fortunate to be a part of a larger system that ensured we had the needed supplies to care for our patients,” Holland says. “Another change has been a greater reliance on telehealth. We utilized telehealth in small ways before 2020, which made for an easy transition during the pandemic and became hardwired before the hurricanes. Telehealth has allowed people to continue to safely receive medical care – something we’ll continue long after the pandemic.”
“Our biggest goal for any storm is to make sure we remain open before, during and after,” Holland added. “No matter the storm severity, there will always be medical needs and people who need to remain home despite a mandatory evacuation order. With the 2020 hurricanes, our goal was to ensure available care.
The plan took quite a bit of preparation. We had alternate water sources and large industrial generators brought in before the storms to ensure our services would continue. We participated in state and local planning and assisted officials in storm recovery efforts. We sent out frequent media releases and updated our social media often to keep the community informed on service availability. We also prioritized caring for our Associates. To continue to provide community care, we ensured our employees were cared for by offering sleep rooms, laundry facilities, shower facilities, free food and supplies. Associates were able to request needed funds to get their homes and families back together after the hurricanes. We knew if our Associates were cared for, we could continue to provide top quality healthcare, even in that very trying time.”
CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick, CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area and their many clinics and ancillary locations all received substantial damage during both storms, including roof damage, window damage and overall damage to campus grounds. At St. Patrick, the top of one of their crosswalks blew off. “Because of preparations by our facilities and maintenance team, we had immediate temporary remediation during the storm and remediation crews began work the morning after each storm,” Holland said. “We never lost service and continued extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ throughout the storms’ aftermath.”