Faced with the Delta variant, the Hospitals of Louisiana out of breath

Alive but barely.In the intensive care department of the North Oaks hospital, in Hammond in Louisiana, behind artificial respirators, the faces of patients are gray and emaciated, eaten by COVVI-19.

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As everywhere else in this state, the establishment is overwhelmed by the victims of the pandemic.Of its 330 beds, 81 are occupied by patients with the new coronavirus, half of which in critical condition.

The South American, quick to lift his health restrictions in the spring, now cashes the Delta variant full -whip.Louisiana is by far the hardest affected, with more than 5,800 daily cases on average, 50% more than during the mid-January peak, the most destructive wave until then.

"We receive not only more patients during this wave but their condition is also more critical," says Dr. Justin Fowlkes, specialist in respiratory diseases."And unfortunately, we also see more patients die.»»

In this unit specializing in heavy pathologies, one of the 18 beds has just released.Not for a long time, we are already preparing to welcome a new patient, who will be immediately placed under respirator.

The 17 current patients are sedative and most are even immersed in an artificial coma. « Nous ne voulons pas que leur corps fasse le moindre effort, nous voulons que le respirateur fasse tout à leur place»», explique Charles Abrams, coordinateur du service.

Face au variant Delta, les hôpitaux de Louisiane à bout de souffle

A discreet Christian cross swings in this 53 -year -old man, with shaved skull and soft voice.He cuts nurses with a worried look. « Je me fais du souci pour elles»», commence-t-il, avant de s'interrompre.Behind her surgical mask, her eyes suddenly shine and her face blushes.After long seconds, he resumes, his throat knotted: "But given the situation, I find that they hold on.»»

« C'est presque dur d'être à la maison parfois, avec nos familles»», confie Stefanie Gras, infirmière de ce service."Because they have no idea what to manage (at the hospital).And it's not easy to describe them.»»

The hospital has offered psychological support to its caregivers, but few have chosen to use it.For Charles Abrams, nurses do not realize the trauma from which they have suffered since the start of the pandemic. Lui a remarqué « les changements d'attitude, d'expressions du visage»».


To try to stem the Delta wave and relieve hospital staff, Louisiana restored the obligation to wear an indoor mask and had to ask for help from the federal authorities.Some 150 nurses and doctors were therefore dispatched to reinforce by the Ministry of Health, including 15 in North Oaks.

Vaccination, despite a slight recent acceleration, remains very below the national level.Only 38.3% of Louisiana residents are fully vaccinated, compared to more than half (51.2%) across the United States.Here in Hammond, 72 of the 81 patients with COVID-19 were not vaccinated.

Some express regrets, says Dr. Fowlkes, and try to convince their loved ones to get their doses.But others, an almost equivalent number, persist.

L'un d'eux, « très malade et dont l'état se détériorait»», a ainsi expliqué au médecin que « si c'était à refaire, même en sachant qu'il se retrouverait infecté et à l'hôpital, il ne se ferait quand même pas vacciner»».

Muffled beeps continue to sound through the service.In the last room, a pair of eyes fixed through the window the caregivers who monitor the sick.The pupils are extinguished: this young woman of 28 years cannot see the bouquet brought by her relatives and which the nurses were kind enough to deposit on the medical cart right in front of the door. Près des fleurs, un petit ballon de baudruche affiche: « Bon rétablissement!»»

« Nous espérons qu'elle ira mieux, mais nous n'en savons rien»», soupire Charles Abrams.

Two weeks earlier, a dozen patients died in three days. En 31 ans de carrière, « ça n'était jamais arrivé»», dit-il."And I hope it will never happen again.»»

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