Louisiana Nurses Dealing With Sicker Patients, Shortages in Delta Surge: 'It's So Scary'

Louisiana hospitals are seeing more and more cases of COVID-19 and struggling to deal with insufficient staffing as they find the patients they treat appear to be sicker than ever before during the pandemic.

At Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, a New Orleans suburb, nurses in the intensive care unit are seeing severe cases of the disease prompted by the highly contagious Delta variant.

"People are getting sick so quickly this time," nurse Joan Blizzard told the Associated Press. "They will be talking to you, and within hours we're having multiple people at the bedside" performing emergency procedures. "It is so scary."

She said that people who survive may live with "years of impairment" from underlying, long-lasting symptoms.

Jerome Batiste, 26, an overall healthy young man, is hospitalized at Ochsner with COVID-19. Batiste, who was unvaccinated when he contracted the virus, now regrets his decision to not get the jab.

"I just didn't take it as serious as most young people should," Batiste, who had a port with multiple tubes for his medicine sticking out of his right forearm, told the AP. "You're never too safe to go and get vaccinated."

Batiste assumed he had a strong immune system, but after getting sick he had a cough he could not get rid of and was throwing up a lot. After hospitalization, he has developed a rare condition in which his body's muscle tissue has begun to break down, requiring a kidney flush to prevent further illness.

Ochsner Health is the largest health care provider in the state, with 40 medical facilities across the state. Nearly 40 percent of the state's hospitalized coronavirus patients—around 1,000 people—are being treated at Ochsner, the AP said.

Neurologist Robin Davis said that the departments are thinly stretched as nonurgent care and elective surgeries are suspended and doctors take on multiple roles to meet the responsibilities of nurses, janitors and orderlies.

"Sunday was supposed to be my day off with my kids," Davis said, "but we need help here, and one day I want to be able to tell those two little boys I did the thing that was needed at the time it was needed."

Louisiana is seeing a daily average of 5,660 cases, according to The New York Times. On Tuesday alone, 80 deaths were reported.

Davis told the AP she cannot stress enough the importance of getting vaccinated, especially when she sees how many friends and family members died at the start of the pandemic, before vaccines were available.

"They were people that didn't have a chance," she said. "There was nothing we could do to stop this for them. You've got a chance now. You have something that gives you the opportunity to have a fate that isn't like theirs. Please don't squander it."

Newsweek reached out to the Louisiana Department of Health for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Medical Monitoring Station For Coronavirus Patients Set
Louisiana hospitals are trying to handle increasing cases of COVID-19 and patients who appear to be sicker than ever before during the pandemic. Above, a bed at a field hospital set up for COVID-19 patients at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on April 4, 2020. Chris Graythen/Getty Images