St. Charles Parish Hospital CEO Keith Dacus, St. Charles Parish President Matt Jewell and SCPH Associate Medical Director Dr. Victoria Smith discussed the current state of the hospital and parish and what long-term challenges each may face when St. Charles Parish Hospital hosted a Hurricane Ida Recovery Facebook Live on Friday.
Smith guided the conversation, which began with the current state of affairs at the hospital and within the parish. Talk later pivoted to what on-going challenges may be within the parish and hospital system.
“All departments, services and providers are all back in their office,” Dacus said. “The hospital is open … all clinic offices, pharmacies and outpatients services are open as well.
Dacus said the hospital was evacuated on Aug. 29 as Hurricane Ida took aim at St. Charles Parish, but that the ER stayed open in anticipation of residents’ needs.
“It’s a long road we’ll have to get the hospital back into the state it was in,” Dacus said, adding that one of the long-term issues the hospital system will face is extensive roof damage. “All services are being provided … they just might not be in their original location … we’re open and excited to see everyone.”
Smith said the many appointments and services cancelled because of the storm are currently being rescheduled.
“We’re being very proactive in reaching out to patients to get them back in, but we know people are dealing with communication challenges,” Smith added. “We know that this has been just so challenging, especially in St. Charles Parish.”
Smith added present-day medical care is also complicated with the pandemic.
“We really want to encourage you not to put off your regular health care on top of dealing with any challenges you may be having at your homes,” she said. “We don’t want you to let your health slide. Our physicians, our hospital departments are ready to welcome you back to take care of your chronic conditions as well.”
In Jewell’s segments, the parish leader spoke about the complexities of debris pick-up and how it – in addition to the restoration of parish-wide internet service – top the list of long-term storm-related challenges. He also said there was extreme damage to many government buildings, including the courthouse.
Jewell said although a second debris management site is now open on the east bank of the parish, it may be another month or longer until all debris is picked up.
“Our parish received a considerable amount of damage from one end to the other,” he said. “We’ve done a damage assessment.”
The assessment details that 500 parish homes were completely destroyed in the storm, while 7,000 homes received major damage. Another 14,000 homes, Jewell said, received some degree of storm damage.
“Literally every structure in St. Charles Parish has had some sort of effect from Hurricane Ida,” he said.
Jewell spoke of the importance for parish-wide internet to become available soon, as many local residents are working from home and needing the internet for school or telemedicine appointments.
While there is still considerable work to do, Jewell said, a month of progress has made a world of difference.