Baton Rouge – The Jindal Administration is working with the Department of Health and its local and federal partners to ensure the continued availability of health care services during the events celebrating Mardi Gras. This effort is intended to supplement and support the local medical community as more than one million guests arrive in the city during the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday.
“Coordinating with the local community and our federal partners is a critical component of preparedness, and one of my top priorities” said Governor Jindal. “Secretary Levine has spoken with Secretary Leavitt’s office, and we are all working together to ensure, first and foremost, that we are prepared for any unexpected health care demands on our system.”
During the weekend of Mardi Gras, a temporary urgent care clinic will be established to provide care for minor injuries and ailments to visitors. The clinic will be located at 1927 Tulane Ave. on a lot owned by the Medical Center of Louisiana. The clinic will have full capability to triage and treat injuries and transfer patients to the appropriate facilities when necessary.
Seven hospitals in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes will be staffed with emergency medical/strike teams consisting of paramedics, emergency medical technicians and nurses. This support began January 25 and will run through February 7.
LDH Secretary Alan Levine said the first priority is the safety of visitors and residents of New Orleans.
“This effort is intended to ensure our health care system is prepared for any potential surge in demand for health care services,” said Levine. “We want to do all we can to support the City of New Orleans, and we do so with the support of the federal government.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Admiral W. Craig Vanderwagen, M.D., has assured Levine that HHS will be standing by in case the need arises for support.
“Although the need for federal medical support for Mardi Gras is not expected, we appreciate this offer and commitment,” added Levine.
As in the case of any state request for disaster assistance, HHS has medical response resources that could be requested if there is an emergent need. Examples of these resources include medical personnel or equipment to supplement local emergency departments and the downtown clinic location.
LDH has been working with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the City of New Orleans, LSU Medical Center, State Police and the Metropolitan Hospital Council to develop and implement this medical assistance plan.
LDH has contracted with a medical staffing agency and an EMS provider for additional medical personnel. Throughout the Mardi Gras season, LDH will communicate with area hospitals to assess the status of their emergency departments regarding their capacity to treat any surge in patient volume.
“The efforts by LDH and LSU to support our local medical community during Mardi Gras are greatly appreciated,” added Dr. Kevin Stephens, medical director for the New Orleans health department. “Our city is open and ready for Mardi Gras. Although we hope our visitors will have a safe and enjoyable experience, we are ready should someone need emergency medical care.”
In addition to the site, LSU’s Medical Center of Louisiana is providing medical equipment, supplies and medication at the site. The city will provide physical facilities and will assist with water, sewage and waste disposal at the site. State Police will provide security and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security will be responsible for a mobile communications unit.
“We are providing our mobile command post as well as the necessary technical support. This will allow medical staff onsite at the urgent care clinic to communicate directly with local hospitals. The system includes telephone, computer and internet access and is also an interoperable radio communication system,” said Mark Cooper, director of the Office of Homeland Security.