Pictured is one of the entrances to Savoy Medical Center in Mamou that continues to treat patients while riding the wave of COVID-19. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Cresting with COVID
Savoy Medical Center in Mamou, like many other healthcare facilities in the area, has been managing patients’ health through COVID-19 during its waves. The hospital’s chief executive officer, Eugene Burge, stated his facility made it “pretty good” through the first wave. However, things are reaching the tipping point during this second wave.
“This second wave has been a lot different,” Burge said. “There are a lot more positive COVID patients and a lot more sick positive COVID patients. Now, we are busy with ICU patients on ventilators who are COVID positive.”
Burge went on to say resources, such as ventilators, are available, but the hospital is running low on its most valuable resource which is staffing such as nurses and respiratory therapists. Even though beds are available at the hospital, it is nearing capacity because of its staffing issues.
Staffing, according to Burge, is an issue at Savoy because hospital has “exceeded its regular volume” and “there are only so many trained people to take care of patients.”
This is resulting in the hospital reaching its tipping point. As Burge explained, the tipping point is when a hospital can’t take anymore patients. He said, “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting to that point where we’re just going to have to raise our hands and say we’re going to have to not take certain patients.”
Despite the issues, Burge said his staff is dealing with the challenges. “The staff is good,” he said. “The morale is good. They’re dedicated and committed. They want to work, and they’re going to take care of people.”
COVID-19 is not the only name of the game at Savoy as the hospital is still treating patients with other conditions and is still performing elective surgeries.
“Our hospital is not full of COVID,” said Burge. “The majority of our patients are not COVID. We haven’t stopped elective surgeries yet. That’s something on our radar to make the decision on in the near future.”
Burge explained patients who are not experiencing COVID symptoms can still go to the emergency room. When they do, they are isolated from patients who are showing symptoms. “We test the patients, and, if they have to be admitted, we put them in a negative pressure room until we get the test results,” he said. “We do our best to keep everyone separate with social distancing.”
The hospital, as well, is also treating patients through Savoy Cancer Center and New Horizons through a mixture of old and new methods.
“Our cancer center is still running,” Burge said. “Dr. Paul Zhang and Jennifer Landry, our nurse practitioner, are using telehealth to limit some of the interactions. Some people prefer telehealth because it restricts their exposure. A lot of times they need to be restricted because the treatment they are receiving may compromise their immune system.”
Burge added, though, the cancer center continues to provide infusions and radiation therapy.
As for New Horizons, Burge said, “we’re very fortunate that we have not had a COVID positive patient yet. If we did, we would isolate them and have them treated separately.”
Savoy Medical Center is also treating patients at its several rural clinics around the area. Burge said the staff at the clinics can see patients at their cars in an effort to “limit the spread into our clinics.”
Burge expressed the situation at the hospital is more serious now than it was during the first wave. But, what has remained constant is the support of prayer warriors for the hospital’s frontliners.
“These are the people who get up every morning and choose to do what they do to take care of these COVID positive patients,” he said. “They know the patients are positive and know they put themselves at risk.”
He concluded, “They do it because it’s their mission, and they do it with a good heart. So, let’s all make sure the community as a whole thinks of them and prays for them.”