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Hurricane Ida has hit and is now gone, thank you.  Despite its rude visit and departure, Louisiana residents are restless. Some have evacuated to points everywhere. Others remain back home.  All of them long for they way things were before the storm.

Those who have remained are surviving the smothering heat.  If they are very lucky, they have some gas in their tanks.  Gas for cars and trucks is woefully lacking.  Drivers face very long lines taking hours to get to the pump.  Some gas stations have become danger zones.  Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto has coined pump misbehaving, as "gas holes". So, why would a state, almost literally drowning in oil, gas and refineries be so lacking at the gas pump?

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Ocshner Health, Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system, is not only dealing with the major catastrophic disaster resulting from Super Hurricane Ida which hit this past weekend, but is still coping with the traumas of the ongoing health pandemic of Covid-19 with markedly increased hospitalizations over the past two months.

On Wednesday, Ocshner held a press conference led by the President and CEO Warner Thomas. Below is the rough transcript of the first part of that Zoom press conference. (The transcript has been lightly edited. For the complete interview, watch the video:  

Nicole O'Malley

We some updated information from you from Ochsner regarding hurricane itis. So with that we've got, again, Warner Thomas, our president and CEO, Dr. Robert Hart our chief medical officer, and Mike HulaFeld, our chief operating officer. So know there's a lot of questions about transfers and some of the transports we've been doing. So with that, I will turn it over to Warner.

Warner Thomas 

Hey, good evening, everybody. Have you wallet? So sorry. That's okay. Did you mute me, Nicole? Wow. You know, I'm really having so much better on you. I sound so much better on mute. Anyway, that's fine. Sorry. Technical difficulties. Stay away from the keyboard. So thanks for joining us tonight. We want to give you a briefing from Ochsner health on our hurricane item response and our continued ramp up. We we made a lot of progress today across our system. We'' ll give you an update of what we view as the successes and wins and progress from today. On we're happy to take questions. I will say that our COVID census does continue to decline from from yesterday we're down about 50 patients so we're at 722 patients across our system from 772. The biggest decrease is in Lafayette. That's they're down about almost 40 patients in Lafayette. So we do continue to see a decline or a COVID census. On the successes for today. Our dialysis centers are back up and coming online. Our our we did will reopen our behavioral health unit at our St. Ann's facility which was evacuated we will reopen that behavioral health unit tonight with six beds. We did move about 70 patients out of ERS today to decompress the ERS We have significant progress being made and remediation at our Kenner facility. Jefferson highway at our Bayou facilities. We continue to make remediation progress there. Our Jefferson highway campus did receive power from the power grid. Tonight we're testing that power from the power grid from entergy and so hopefully we'll be able to move off a generator power at the Jefferson highway campus or move off some of the generator power at Jefferson highway. later on this evening. We have been working hard to provide more services to our employees. We have now identified and will have fuel trucks on locations at most of our facilities. From the North Shore to St. Bernard to our new orleans campuses to the bayou campuses in in the next probably 24-48 working,, some.  We are working on the transition of our team a and Team B over the next 24 hours. So bring on our team B folks in weaving our Team A folks.  We have now we're beginning to get ready to release the first payments out of our hurricane Ida Employee Assistance Fund. We have about--Mike kind of correct me--I think we have about 1500 applications that have come in. I think we're gonna release somewhere between three and 500 payments tomorrow or Friday. I'll get well confirm those numbers and get them to you Nicole to get those out to folks but we are continuing to do our hurricane assistance our employees. We have now identified several 100 hotel rooms that we are working to finalize that will be secured for our workers who are needing to come back to town that either have significant power issues at their houses.  Also have now secured significant supplies for our teams out of North Arena. So these are toilet, personal items, undergarments. verts scrubbing as being secured in North band are now trucking that to South Louisiana to the bar so we'll be able to start opening up to goods for for employees there. We're now deploying.

Warner Thomas 

We've identified washing machines to our Bayou facility. Please don't want to kind of secure and and help our employees and we've made that progress over the last 24 hours. So we will get the exact numbers on our employee assistance and make sure we get that to you.

Warner Thomas 

Anyway, Mike, Robert, I don't know if you got more you may want to go through more on dialysis and outpatient pharmacy and clinic reopenings if you just want to hit some of those things.

Mike Hulefeld 

Happy to Warner. It was a good day in terms of getting some more services online for our for our patients really across all regions. In the south shore. We reopened ambulatory services out in Kenner today reopened our mid city urgent care or emergency departments have been really, really busy. So getting Urgent Care back online was important. That will continue to ramp up in the next coming days as well. Really across, we started some surgical cases there so that continues to ramp up multiple primary care sites in Baton Rouge have opened back up the ones that haven't really still close due to a lack of power. And we brought our Baton Rouge Cancer Center back online today. Obviously those are time sensitive treatments that we want to continue to provide. So that was that was great and Baton Rouge on the on the North Shore or Covington Cancer Center where we run in partnership with St Tammany came online today. And so again time sensitive and important to get that going. Urgent Care in Slidell, multiple primary care clinics again, the rate limiter in some areas still be and not all of our clinics have power. So made really good progress there. Lafayette Lafayette general surgical hospital and Lafayette Orthopaedic Hospital are both reopening next week. And then again, several markets like like North Lake Charles are business as usual. So really good day from from a from a reopening perspective. Some additional information around our transfers, we have obviously been active with the evacuations out of the body, which we've already discussed. But some interesting information, actually, since Sunday, we have facilitated and are actually accepted over 300 transfers across across all regions. We've done as many as nine helicopter transports. In a given day, which is yesterday a lot of pediatric in nature. We facilitated transfers over 30 different facilities between Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, the whole region has come together to really help in this response to it. And so that has been has been great to great to see. So a lot of activity from that perspective, and a lot of movement that our teams are coordinating, but again, thank everybody, other providers across the multiple states that are helping care for these transfer patients as well. So overall, again, a good day continue to ramp back up.

Warner Thomas 

Or do you want to hit on monoclonal antibodies COVID, testing COVID vaccines, the work being done there to kind of bring a lot of those back up?

Robert Hart 

Yeah, sure. You know, as we get getting everything back up and running, we're trying to obviously get all the work around COVID pandemic. Rolling again, we do have the monoclonal antibody infusions that that you've all heard about. We've got those go on at Hancock and on the North Shore. We were able to get them started at Baton Rouge today. We'll get that rolling here in New Orleans on Friday. And so that will be good to get that started again. Hopefully that may relieve again some of those patients needing to be admitted to our hospitals. We're starting to test thing again, we'll be doing some drive thru testing across the street on Jefferson highway and our primary care and wellness near in the parking lot over there, taking drive throughs there. And then the vaccines, we're still putting together the plan gathering the personnel that we need to begin starting that up and running next week as well. So probably on Wednesday, we'll be able to get that set up again in primary care and wellness phase.

Warner Thomas 

And Mike, did you mention the pharmacies?

Mike Hulefeld 

I did not.

Warner Thomas 

Right. Yeah. So the other thing just to let people know,

Mike Hulefeld 

one of the big things you know, we're trying to give people their prescriptions, you know, some have left, some are back in town, some may have been lost in the in the storm. So we do have many of our locations open from seven to seven. That's here at Jefferson highway and Kenner address and in Baton Rouge at the grow. West Bank is going to be 10am to seven. Ochsner health and Covington is just doing curbside delivery at 8 to 5:30. And then Slidell Memorial also is open at 8 to 5:30. So, again, trying to make sure patients can get their medicines and, and keep keep on top of their health conditions.

Watch the entire press conference by clicking on this video

Ochsner Health has been providing high-quality clinical and hospital patient care to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South since 1942. The healthcare family—today, is compromised of more than 32,000 employees and over 4,500 providers in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties


Louisiana has never suffered from a pandemic as much as the Delta strain of the Covid-19.

Here are the latest news stories dealing with this issue

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How challenging for the State of Louisiana is Covid-19's omnipresent Delta variant? What impact is it having upon the state's premier health system? 

Today, the President and CEO of Ochsner Health, Warner Thomas, was a guest on Morning Joe to discuss the raging Covid-19 Delta virus. Thomas said it is the fourth surge in Louisiana.  During the interview, CEO Thomas talked about the impact the virus was having upon medical services, even to the point that over the past ten days, Ochsner had to turn away 300 transfer patients from other facilities due to the level of COVID patients Ochsner is treating and due to the level and pressure on staffing.

Ochsner is Louisiana’s largest nonprofit academic health center and is the state’s largest private employer. The health system has facilities in New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, Kenner, the River Parishes, Baton Rouge, the Northshore, the West Bank, Raceland, Houma, St. Bernard, Shreveport, and in Mississippi.

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 Late on a hot July night in a neighborhood off Downman Road in New Orleans, a man was shot in the head. After being taken to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries. It was another grisly statistic in a city known for its high rate of violence.

Sadly, the shooting was barely mentioned in local media, just another murder victim in a violent city. As usual, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) provided few details. These regular incidents of crime spark little outrage from the public numbed by the never-ending violence.

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Cajun cuisine has always been unique, delightfully spicy, and thoroughly enjoyable for those that live or visit South Louisiana. But for many years, it was always a local thing. That all changed with the arrival of Chef Paul Prudhomme in the 1980s.  He became an internationally known superstar chef who brought the taste of Cajun and creole cooking worldwide.

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New Orleans is a 300-year-old city, but it is on the verge of losing its unique character that made it one of the top travel destinations in the world.

The damage began in the 1990’s when the Orleans Parish School Board decided to change the name of public schools in New Orleans. Removed were names honoring George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and many others. This was done to make students feel better about their schools. Of course, it did not result in public education improving at all.


I don’t know about you, but I sure am confused about all this current debate over gender equity, gay rights, and transgenders, especially with new rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.  I keep reading in the newspaper about LGBT. I had to look up the lettering to even know what the abbreviation means. Being “politically correct” has become an obsession with much of the country as well as right here at home in Louisiana.


Republicans just a few weeks ago were scouring major cities across the country to find a new location for their national convention, scheduled for mid-August. The GOP had originally planned to congregate in Charlotte North Carolina, but the governor set extremely strict standards for any type of large gathering.  President Trump seems dead set on going to a more friendly environment.  New Orleans was   initially in the running.

There is a huge financial stake involved, with some 40,000 conventioneers projected to be attendance at wherever the location may be. The economic impact is estimated to be well over $200 million. Such conventions prove to be a huge financial generator for hotels, restaurants, cab drivers, bars and a whole host of local of entertainment options the fuel the local economy of any convention city.

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New Orleans is a city that has a 65% majority African American population. In addition, the two most important positions in the city are held by African Americans: Mayor and Police Chief. There are also African Americans in powerful positions throughout the city administration, the city council, the school board, the business community, and other influential organizations.  

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