Local hospitals say they are holding steady amid a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported that the number of patients occupying hospital beds jumped by nearly 7% and the number of them using ventilators increased by 11% over the last several days.
At last count, hospitalizations were at 700 across the state and 73 patients were on ventilators.
Terrebonne and Lafourche are a part of Region 3, which also includes Assumption, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Mary parishes.
As of Friday, there were 394 beds in use and 334 available beds in the region, according to the state. There are 51 occupied ICU beds and 44 available ICU beds. There are 11 ventilators in use, leaving 109 still available.
Health officials said 14 patients hospitalized were in the region with the virus, only one of whom was using a ventilator.
There were as many as 25 coronavirus patients using area hospital beds June 1, officials said.
The region reached its peak April 11 with 132 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Thibodaux Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Toni Martinez said the hospital has seen a brief increase in the number of COVID-19 patients over the past couple of weeks.
"We continue to be proactive in responding and caring for these patients as well as those who present to the hospital with symptoms of COVID," Martinez said. "The safety and well-being of patients, staff and the community remain a top priority.
"Although many restrictions have been lifted in Phase 2, the threat of COVID exposure still exists. We highly encourage everyone to remain vigilant and continue efforts to help slow the spread of the virus. These efforts include washing your hands often, practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask in public places and staying away from others if you are sick."
Terrebonne General Medical Center spokeswoman Rhonda Alfred said there have been no big upticks in admitted coronavirus patients at the Houma hospital.
"Terrebonne General Medical Center is continuing to care for our community, staff and physicians throughout the coronavirus pandemic and moving forward with restoration of business operations to provide needed healthcare services," she said. "Evidence-based protocols continue to be in place to clean and disinfect all areas of the hospital, robust quality controls measure all aspects of cleanliness and all rooms are tested with quantified cleaning to ensure expert sanitization."
On Friday, Terrebonne reported 47 new cases, its biggest jump since April. Parish officials said 40 of those cases were from high school students who returned from a recent trip.
Lavelle Chiasson, spokeswoman of Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Galliano, said that facility has not had a significant increase in coronavirus cases.
Testing continues to be a priority to combat spread of the virus, hospital officials said.
Thibodaux Regional continues to perform COVID-19 testing through its laboratory services, Martinez said.
"Individuals who wish to be tested should contact their physician," she said. "Thibodaux Regional has four ways that we are able to test for COVID-19 – reference lab testing and three rapid in-house testing capabilities."
From the onset of the pandemic, TGMC has aggressively worked to provide testing and has partnered with other health services to meet demand, Alfred said.
"To ensure that testing is convenient, the TGMC Outpatient Lab located in the Medical Atrium is currently providing outpatient testing," she said.
TGMC also conducts onsite coronavirus antibody testing with results in less than a day, Alfred said. The blood test determines if patients have the antibodies to the virus from a prior infection.
Compared to larger metro areas, places like Houma and Thibodaux sometimes depend on larger regions for bed space, according to Region 3 Director Dr. Chip Riggins.
"Our region from a hospital bed standpoint is in reality under-bedded," Riggins said during an interview Friday. "We’re really dependent on New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Without that large urban hub we don’t have the beds per-capita, which leaves our hospitals a little more vulnerable. We have fewer beds compared to other regions, so we’re always concerned if those other regions are filling up. We need access to those hospital beds as well."
The best weapon against COVID-19 remains the same, Alfred said.
"TGMC advises our community to continue to protect yourselves each day by practicing social distancing, washing your hands and wearing masks properly," Alfred said. "We will continue to monitor COVID-19 very closely and adhere to local, state and federal guidelines."
-- Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.