Opelousas General Hospital staff test positive for COVID-19; some may not survive, officials say

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OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) Opelousas General Hospital says they are treating between 20 and 30 patients and more than a dozen staff members who have contracted COVID-19.

And, doctors say some may not survive.

The hospital is now making major changes to keep patients and staff members safe.

“Are they getting it while at work? We don’t know. It’s community spread. So we don’t know, but we are trying our best to prevent that from happening,” Dr. Kenneth Cochran with Opelousas General said.

Most of the staff members have recovered, but some are still fighting for their lives.

“We’ve had a few of them that are very, very sick, like critical care sick, like giving me a report three times a day sick to tell me how they’re doing because we’re hoping they survive,” Dr. Cochran said.

The staff members that beat the virus went right back to work at Opelousas General after their quarantine was over.

“I know there’s some dark days that’s going to be ahead of us. We’re going to see many people we know, our loved ones are gonna get sick, and ultimately some of them are going to pass away,” Director of Environmental and Outpatient Lab Services Shelton Anthony said.

The hospital is making changes to keep both staff members and patients safe.

“We have turned an entire unit into a COVID unit. We’ve brought in negative-pressure units to keep our patients safe: not only our patients but our staff,” Anthony aded.

Opelousas General Hospital has converted their 16-bed I.C.U. into what they call negative-pressure units, or isolation rooms, for COVID-19 patients.

“What that does is, it pulls air in, and it takes out the bad stuff, the viruses and the bacteria and the particles, and it does it at a higher frequency than just normal. That helps our staff from re-breathing these droplets that have COVID in them, and then it also helps keep from spreading it from patient to patient,” Dr. Cochran said.

He says they’ve also converted the fourth floor of the hospital into a COVID-19 unit, with 25 beds and they are also in the process of converting the fifth floor as well.

In addition to the changes inside the hospital, they’re asking family and friends of patients to facetime them instead of visiting.

“We have always encouraged family and friends to visit and stay with their loved ones. Now we’re telling family and friends to stay away. We are not allowing visitors at this time,” Chief Nursing Officer Jackie Simien said.

The team at Opelousas General Hospital says while they do their part by fighting the virus on the frontlines, they need people to stay at home to prevent them from ending up in the hospital as well.

“Don’t turn Easter weekend into reversing all the work we’ve done in the last month,” Anthony said.

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