Baton Rouge hospitals continued to function even though some operated on generator power for a while as Hurricane Isaac disrupted regular electric service.
As the storm raged outside Wednesday, nine babies were born at Woman’s Hospital, which operated on emergency power for most of the day, said spokeswoman Aimee Goforth. Entergy restored power about midnight, she said.
Baton Rouge General — Mid City off Florida Street and Ocshner’s Medical Center off Interstate 12 at O’Neal Lane reported electrical outages. But back-up systems kicked in — largely without patients noticing anything had changed, hospitals officials said.
“It’s pretty seamless. The whole hospital is functional,” Ochsner-Baton Rouge chief operations officer Eric McMillen said.
A relay switch malfunctioned at the General but it did not interfere with patient care, public information officer Nicole Kleinpeter said.
Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, LSU’s Earl K. Long Medical Center and the General’s Bluebonnet campus did not lose power as Isaac pounded the area with strong winds and heavy rains, hospital officials said. No one returned messages seeking comment at Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary.
Louisiana Hospital Association Vice President Sean Prados said hospitals were “very prepared” for the storm with most opting to “shelter in place” their patients instead of transferring them to other facilities.
Prados said the Baton Rouge hospitals were among 29 across south Louisiana that went on total generator power at some point during the storm. The generator use came either because the hospitals lost power or the power was going in and out and hospitals opted to switch to a generator to protect their sensitive equipment, he said.
“A lot of hospitals have improved their back up system over the last several years,” he said.
The Lake was prepared to activate its natural gas generator — added after 2008 Hurricane Gustav knocked out power to the facility along with other area hospitals, spokeswoman Kelly Zimmerman said.
At that time back-up generators proved insufficient or failed in some cases, leaving hospitals without air conditioning and some having to transport patients to other area hospitals.
Zimmerman said everyone had “a more calm and confident feeling” with the new power source at the ready.
EKL — hit last time — was spared and stayed open throughout, LSU Health Care Services Division chief Roxane Townsend said. Some medical personnel from the hospital have also been staffing the special needs shelter at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center and the Field House, she said. Staffing increased Thursday morning with an influx of about 120 evacuees from the Laplace area, she said.
Prados said some hospitals in the River Parishes, such as St. John the Baptist, decided not to take anybody new because of flood conditions.
LSU moved nine patients from Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence to its Bogalusa Medical Center after an electrical substation that serves it failed, Townsend said. The transfer happened after officials learned that it could take four days to restore normal power, she said.
Lallie Kemp is on emergency power, Townsend said. Extra staff has been called in preparation for an expected influx of patients due to potential flooding of the Tangipahoa River, she said.
LSU moved 23 behavioral health patients out of its Uptown New Orleans facility, which lost power and experienced water intrusion, Townsend said.
Those patients were sent to Central Louisiana State Hospital in Pineville, she said, until the situation in New Orleans can be stabilized.