Six members of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT)

To help care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients in Central Louisiana requiring hospitalization, a 28-member Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical Systems (NDMS) arrived at Rapides Regional Medical Center (RRMC) last weekend to support staff at the region’s largest hospital. This team will provide clinical care and support to the increase in COVID-19 patient admissions, while expanding the capacity to care for patients over the next two weeks. This highly specialized team includes physicians, physician assistants, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, administrators and support staff and will work 24/7.

“The COVID patient volumes are growing daily. We now have some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 positive patients in our hospital,” said Jason E. Cobb, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer. “As we experience our fourth COVID-19 surge during the pandemic, our employees continue to work compassionately, providing high-quality healthcare for all patients, as they have always done.

“The arrival of this team provides support and an opportunity for additional caregivers during this time. We are incredibly grateful and humbled for these resources — and this proves that as a community, and a nation, we are indeed stronger together.”

The DMAT members are assigned to the areas of greatest need, which include the hospital’s COVID-19 Unit, Medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Surgical ICU and the Emergency Room.

The NDMS team was deployed to RRMC following the hospital’s request to Louisiana state authorities. Team members come from healthcare facilities in New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alaska, Ohio and Tennessee.

“I’ve been deployed since the beginning of the pandemic,” said David Diamond, Team Leader DMAT NY-2. “My first assignment was February 2020, and we work for a two-week period. For this specific mission, we are helping the hospital in the emergency room, ICU and whatever they and their patients need.”

Diamond, who is from New York, is one of thousands of medical, logistical and command and control personnel from NDMS who have been deployed across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic since early last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 84% of new COVID-19 cases in Louisiana are the result of the Delta variant.

Today, Rapides Regional Medical Center is treating 59 COVID-19 patients. The hospital experienced a 109% increase of COVID-19 admissions in July compared to June. August admissions are on pace to eclipse the July increase.

“In the past two weeks, we have seen an influx of patients under the age of 50 come into our hospital with COVID-19,” said Sherri Somers, D.O., Chief Medical Officer. “Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths we treat are unvaccinated. The best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 is to get the vaccine, as soon as possible”

Anyone interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccination can call (855) 453-0774 or visit the Louisiana Department of Health website.