November 24, 2020
LOUISIANA NORTHSHORE—Northshore hospital leaders are coming together to urge residents to mask up in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases. This announcement comes as the St. Tammany Parish coroner issued a coronavirus warning that St. Tammany coronavirus cases have doubled daily in November, averaging 78 new cases per day.
“Our community needs to come together on this,” said Hiral Patel, CEO of Lakeview Regional Medical Center. “While the average person will recover from COVID, your grandmother may not, your aunt may not, your friends may not. We as a health community ask you to be smart, be safe, and mask up.”
The mortality rate in St. Tammany Parish currently remains flat, but the increasing infection rate throughout the Northshore parishes is generally a leading indicator of increased COVID hospitalizations and deaths to come. According to the Louisiana Department of Health weekly report for Nov. 18, Tangipahoa Parish alone has experienced a significant 40 percent spike in its percent positivity rate, increasing from 8 to 12 percent.
“We know it’s hard to stay vigilant and wear a mask every day,” said Sandy Badinger, Chief Executive Officer of Slidell Memorial Hospital and Ochsner Medical Center – Northshore. “But we also know the science has not changed – masks and social distancing slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The pandemic directly impacts local healthcare teams, said Joan M. Coffman, FACHE, President and CEO of St. Tammany Health System. “Our heroes on the COVID units bring new therapies and save lives each day. Feeling our community upholding them in the fight sustains their resilience, so mask up. It matters.”
Hospital leaders decided to band together this week with this message, in part, because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the risks associated with large gatherings. “As we prepare to celebrate the holidays, we implore each resident and visitor to wear a mask and consider the health of others in everything you do,” said John Herman, Chief Executive Officer – Ochsner Health, Northshore Region. New Centers for Disease Control guidelines say it is best to limit Thanksgiving to those within your household.
“We know Louisianans celebrate best by being close together, but this year we need you to think of the health of others first and socially distance,” said Michele Kidd Sutton, FACHE, President/Chief Executive Officer of North Oaks Health System.
Safety guidelines to follow throughout the holiday season include keeping group sizes small, continuing to social distance, using disposable dinnerware, spending time outdoors when possible and masking up when it isn’t. “These guidelines can help keep us safe and flatten the curve,” said Rene J. Ragas, President of Our Lady of the Angels Hospital. “If we all do this now, next year, we can enjoy time with family and friends again.”
Additional recommendations on how to celebrate the holidays safely can be found on the CDC’s website.