The nation had never seen anything like it. In anticipation of Katrina’s destruction, the LSU Health Care Services Division and staff at the Earl K. Long Medical Center (EKLMC), the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and the Louisiana Department of Social Services had developed healthcare services in the LSU Carl Maddox Field House and Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
As the crisis continued to grow, staff expanded the healthcare services that they were providing into the largest acute care field hospital in the nation’s history.
The field house functioned as a special needs shelter before the storm hit. As the epic catastrophe in New Orleans unfolded and the medical needs of arriving evacuees grew great, the operation extended into the Assembly Center. The ill and injured arrived by helicopter, ambulance, and bus.
Neighboring Bernie Moore Track Stadium served as a helipad for countless arrivals and departures. By the time medical services peaked at the LSU athletic facilities on September 8, 2005, they had a capacity of 800 beds, and more than 1,700 medical personnel from all parts of Louisiana and the nation had cared for 6,000 patients.
Besides providing healthcare and medical supplies on the LSU campus during this emergency, the staff of EKLMC, which sustained only minimal storm damage, immediately implemented its full surge capacity: it added beds in nonclinical space, staff worked double shifts, and rapid triage in the emergency room quickly evaluated evacuees’ medical needs.
Staff designed a waiting area for the medically needy who were in transition to shelters and sent medical equipment and supplies to EKLMC sister hospitals in Bogalusa and Independence. Strategically located in Baton Rouge, EKLMC had the resources, expertise, dedicated staff and volunteers to be a linchpin in the emergency response of LSU HCSD.