Public health emergency declared for Louisiana

U.S. health officials today declared public health emergencies for Louisiana and Mississippi, seeking to suspend government red tape that may get in the way of providing help to people affected by Hurricane Ida.

The emergency declaration by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra puts a pause on certain payment rules and other requirements that could become an unwelcome distraction for hospitals and doctors trying to provide services under stressful conditions.

HHS has also staged an incident management team in Dallas to provide coordination of federal health and medical support after Ida passes through the region. Another team is providing support for people needing kidney dialysis.  

Four Louisiana hospitals were damaged and 39 medical facilities were operating on generator power, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. Officials said they were evacuating scores of patients to other cities.

Many Baton Rouge area hospitals are open but have shifted operations. Baton Rouge General postponed surgeries today, and while Ochsner’s Health’s hospitals are open, all of the organizations urgent care and outpatient clinics are closed.  

Baton Rouge General on Bluebonnet is operating on regular power. The Mid City and Ascension locations are on generator power as of this morning. BRG’s clinics are also closed, but the organization said this morning it plans to reopen clinics Tuesday depending on whether they have power. Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center on Essen Lane have regular electricity, while the Assumption, Ascension and Livingston locations are on generator power. Read more on this and other Ida-related items from AP