A Message from Katy Merriman, Chair of the Board

Tuesday March 31, 2020

In these trying times we must stick together, despite staying apart. Those impacted by this virus are in our thoughts and hearts as we all endure this pandemic. I write you today as the Chair of the LSU Health Sciences Foundation Board of Directors to share what steps LSU Health Shreveport and the Foundation are taking to slow the spread of coronavirus and fight COVID-19.

The primary mission of the Foundation is to support LSU Health Shreveport, and our job is never more important than it is during a healthcare crisis. Despite working from home and tending to their loved ones, our staff has diligently gone about their everyday work responsibilities. Donations are still received, processed, and acknowledged. Critical campus funding is still dispersed in a timely manner. And perhaps most importantly, staff and board leadership are working closely to identify and purchase PPEs, ventilators, and other vital supplies for use by our healthcare heroes. The Foundation stands ever ready to assist LSU Health Shreveport and our clinical partner in any way we can.

As for LSU Health Shreveport, its vital role in fighting COVID-19 cannot be overstated.

  • Large Staff of Front Line Health Professionals – Our 900+ faculty physicians, residents, and fellows are on the front lines with other healthcare professionals from our clinical partner Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport. We are blessed to have extremely specialized faculty, but in times of crisis like this, they are all in this fight together.
  • New EVT Testing Lab – With the aid of Governor Edwards, LSU Health Shreveport established the Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) Lab in just 13 days.  Once ramped-up to 24-hour shifts, scientists will be able to process up to 1000 coronavirus tests per day with results available in less than 48 hours. Testing is crucial to stemming the growth of coronavirus, and the EVT Lab gives our region a local lab to process tests quickly and accurately.
  • Online Instruction and Limited Campus Access – Chancellor Ghali acted early to protect our students, faculty, and employees while readying campus for the virus. All campus events—from White Coat Ceremony to Graduations to class reunions—have been cancelled or postponed. Instruction in our three schools easily shifted online. With the exception of key personnel in the EVT lab, all employees and faculty must enter through the hospital, where daily temperature checks are mandatory.  
  • Increased ICU and Standard Bed Capacity – Working with Ochsner LSU Health System (OLHS), we have increased our ICU surge bed capacity by 60%. Moreover, in the coming weeks, we will shift select pediatric and OB-GYN service lines to our St. Mary facility to free up an additional 60-80 beds.
  • Utilizing Newest Med School Graduates to Expand Medical Workforce – 4th year LSU Health medical students that have matched in residency programs here at OLHS have been given the opportunity to start their medical service as early as May 1 depending on how long it takes for them to receive their license. This measure has not been taken in Shreveport teaching hospitals since World War II.

The best thing you can do to help right now is to take every precaution to flatten the curve. As of this writing, we have not reached the peak of cases in North Louisiana. We don’t know when the peak will occur or how bad it will be, but it is up to all of us to do our parts to prevent the spread of this virus and keep our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

The Foundation staff stands by to assist in any way we can. They are monitoring the phones remotely during business hours and are reachable by email. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for all of your support and please stay tuned for more ways that you can help.

Thinking of you,
Katy Merriman
Board Chair, LSU Health Sciences Foundation