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Ochsner Health will require employees to be vaccinated

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SHREVEPORT, La (KTAL/KMSS) – Ochsner Health leaders say they are concerned with the number of pediatric patients they’re seeing because of the Delta variant.

“Children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated. So it’s important the adults around them get vaccinated to protect the children,” said Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, Infectious Disease Specialist Ochsner Health.

Ochsner Health will require all of their employees to get vaccinated. Dr. Kemmerly said they’re facing an uphill battle.

Ochsner Health said 66% of their employees across their hospitals are vaccinated. CEO Warner Thomas said their requiring the vaccine because the safety of their patients comes first. Employees have until October 29 to receive the vaccine. The hospital did not elaborate what would happen if employees refuse.

Thomas said 979 patients are being cared for across their system and 88% are unvaccinated.

265 people are in the ICU and 154 are on ventilators across the system.

North Louisiana’s patient count rose from last week, from 99 Covid patients to 120 in the hospital as of Tuesday.

Thomas cautions the public about access to the hospital because they’ve had to postponed more than 5,000 surgeries. So if you need emergency care, he said the situation is dire.

“So if we don’t think this is impacting other people then we’re simply wrong. We’re working very hard everyday to make sure we have enough bed capacity so we can continue to increase the number of surgeries we’re doing for people. But this is absolutely a critical situation and one that is simply not sustainable,” Thomas said.

Thomas also spoke about a major staffing issue, saying they do not have enough nurses. They’re searching around the country for available nurses. But every city is facing the same challenge of a lack of nurses.

Ochsner Health continues to encourage vaccinations to take the burden off the system. They gave out more than 100 doses at Monday night’s Saints game.

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