August 12, 2020

Union General Uses LWCC Foundation Grant to Purchase Ventilators for Critical COVID-19 Patients

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The timing could not have been better for Union General Hospital when it learned earlier this summer that it was one of 24 hospitals to receive a LWCC Foundation grant in support of COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers.

A critical-access center that has served Union Parish for over 40 years, Union General has been working around the clock to meet the healthcare needs of its community, a hard-hit parish in northeast Louisiana that has seen over 600 COVID-19 cases since March. Like many hospitals around the nation, the staff faced overcrowded wards, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and fears around contracting the virus.

It also faced an urgent need for a ventilator.

A life-support machine that can keep patients alive by breathing for them during surgery and as their bodies recover from infection and other life-threatening trauma, a ventilator can cost up to $50,000 — a steep price for a small hospital like Union General. Although it was occasionally able to borrow a ventilator from St. Francis Medical Center in nearby Monroe, Union General often transferred patients to St. Francis or to Glenwood Medical Center, some 30 miles away, so that they could receive a higher level of care.

The hospital was grateful to St. Francis for the borrowed ventilator, said Evalyn Ormond, CEO of Union General, but never knowing when it might need to be returned had her in a constant state of worry. The ability to buy a ventilator was a “godsend,” she said.

“When you’re a small, rural hospital, funding can be hard to come by.” As a result, she said, “we’re extremely thankful” to the LWCC Foundation.

Union General was also able to use some of the grant money to upgrade its PPE and provide every frontline worker and clinical employee with a respirator, giving them an extra sense of security while at work.

Ormond said that Union General is proud to serve its community — a close-knit and loyal community that has reached out to support the hospital during this difficult time. Schools and churches have sent encouraging cards, food, cleaning and disinfectant products, gloves, and more.

While many rural hospitals around the country have had to close their doors since the onset of the pandemic, Ormond said Union General is glad to be able to stay open and provide healthcare to its little corner of Louisiana. “The funds to purchase our own ventilator were extremely important to this facility.”

As a show of support for Union General and other hospitals on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ormond asked that all Louisianans stay safe and wear masks in public spaces to help slow the spread of the virus.

The LWCC Foundation’s Louisiana Well Again: COVID-19 Response Package is a $1.1 million, three-phase grants and gifts package dedicated to helping Louisiana respond to and recover from the pandemic. Phase 2 of the initiative entailed a total of $500,000 in grants awarded to Union General and other hospitals across the state to support COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers.  

For more information on the LWCC Foundation and the Louisiana Well Again initiatives, click here.

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