407 certified beds
Located in Jefferson Parish, the facility stayed open throughout Hurricane Katrina and has remained open since then. It is one of only three hospitals in the New Orleans area, along with West Jefferson Medical Center and Ochsner Clinic Foundation, to have remained operational during and after Katrina and the subsequent flooding.
Primary hospital building exteriors appear pristine and untouched by either hurricane or flooding. No structural damage is evident. Remediation efforts are underway at an off-site administrative building that experienced some minor flooding to pre-empt mold problems and to enhance overall air quality.
The hospital did not close, and since it was not damaged by the hurricane or subsequent flooding, did not require evacuation. Instead, the hospital served as a shelter for approximately 4,000 people during the hurricane and immediately after. The individuals included patients, hospital staff members, many of their family members, National Guardsmen, members of various local government agencies, and other citizens.
Extensive emergency plans appear to have worked well, as the hospital and its patients and staff weathered the hurricane and subsequent loss of city services (e.g., power, water) without incident. The hospital’s success in dealing with the disaster may be attributed, at least in part, to its prior investments in self-sufficiency. For example, besides having backup generators on site, the hospital also has its own well with potable water. The hospital’s success may also be attributed to the experience of its staff with hurricanes and other disasters. Thus, key staff members were able to remain calm in the face of chaos, and were able to reassure their colleagues, patients, and others as well.
Besides serving the individuals sheltered at the hospital, East Jefferson staff members also were responsible for coordinating emergency medical services among the three hospitals that remained operational during the disaster. To that end, East Jefferson staff members worked with USAR teams to evacuate and triage tens of thousands of evacuees, using I-10 and I-610 for the initial receiving and staging area.
As one of three hospitals currently open, East Jefferson has seen its patient census dramatically increase over the past several weeks. Consequently, staff members have worked many long, difficult days with few breaks. Besides dealing with the challenge of increased patient demand for its services, East Jefferson is faced with the prospect of locating missing staff members, and when found, helping many of these same staff members locate temporary housing and meet other life-sustaining needs.
Submitted by Lucy Arendt and Daniel Hess
October 7, 2005