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Health & Wellness

5 Things You Should Know About COVID-19

By Ochsner Lafayette General
March 12, 2020

Ochsner Lafayette General is committed to keeping our patients informed and in the know when it comes to COVID-19. Below is information about the virus, steps to take for prevention and how we’re prepared as a health system should the virus spread to our community.

What is COVID-19 and how does it spread?
COVID-19—an abbreviation which means coronavirus disease 2019—is a new strain of a respiratory disease called coronavirus.  Similar to viruses like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 is suspected to have originated from an animal-to-person contact. This new strain has now progressed to community spread, which means people get infected without knowing how or where they became exposed. 


What are the Symptoms?
Reported cases have ranged from mild to severe, and even death for some whose immune system was already compromised.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
•    Fever
•    Cough
•    Shortness of breath


What are Steps to Protect Myself?
There is no current vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The following are simple steps you and your family can take to prevent illness. 

  • Clean Hands Often Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid Close Contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Clean and Disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.


What if I’m Sick?
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent exposure, and seek medical care. If you develop a fever or if symptoms progress from mild to severe, call ahead before visiting one of our facilities. This will help us prepare our public space for potential exposure.

  • Stay at home except for getting medical care.
  • Do not go to work, school or public areas.
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Stay away from others in the home and use a separate bathroom if one is available.
  • Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions (COPD, heart disease, etc) or are immuno-compromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.



Is Ochsner Lafayette General Prepared for COVID-19? 
Ochsner Lafayette General has taken the following steps to ensure that we are as prepared as possible should COVID-19 make its way into Acadiana and within our health system. The goal at all facilities is to quickly identify a person at risk, then place that person in isolation and notify the appropriate personnel.  

  • We have a system-wide protocol in place at each of our facilities for the screening and isolation of any patient suspected of having the disease.
  • Increased required screening questions have been enacted in both inpatient and outpatient settings. These screening questions for travel and symptoms warn the registrar to notify a physician ASAP.
  • Signage, provided by the CDC, has been posted regarding COVID-19 associated symptoms and travel history in high traffic areas.
  • We are currently 100% stocked with personal protective equipment (PPE) and we are discussing how to conserve our supplies.
  • We are in constant contact with Dr. Tina Stefanski and the Louisiana Department of Health regarding testing and status.
  • Infection preventionists at all facilities have been in communication with each other and our partners with the Office of Public Health.
  • Staff has been trained on proper donning and doffing of PPE and specimen collection and testing requirements.


If a case is suspected or identified, we will implement all appropriate isolation and protective measures outlined by the CDC and follow their guidelines for hospital personnel and visitors. Additionally, we will immediately notify the proper parties, including the Louisiana State Epidemiologist, the Office of Public Health and the CDC. 

We ask that everyone please continue to practice proper hygiene, which the CDC says will be the most important tools in our response to this virus.

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