At last…talk about a living hellPatients finally rescued from Charity Hospital
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Charity Hospital, where about 200 patients and doctors were trapped in deplorable conditions, was fully evacuated of all patients and personnel.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta said 18-wheel trucks rolled in front of the hospital to remove the final patients and personnel late Friday.
The trucks went to New Orleans' international airport or to the state capital of Baton Rouge.
The facility -- the largest public hospital in the city and a comprehensive trauma center -- was accommodating scores of patients Friday before it was emptied.
The move came two days after the same kind of evacuation at nearby Tulane Medical Center.
The situation at Charity had become dire since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday.
The hospital had no power, no water and no food. Some patients were on ventilators being worked by hand pumps; the bodies of those who died were stored in stairwells, as the hospital's morgue had flooded.
"We are trying as hard as we can to get them some help," said Charity's Dr. Ben Deboisblanc on Friday.
Charity, one of the oldest facilities in New Orleans, is a public hospital which accepts indigent cases and those without medical insurance, Gupta reported. It's also a Level 1 trauma center, however.
Federal officials are trying to double their capacity at the New Orleans airport, which has been set up as a field hospital, Mike Leavitt, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, told CNN. "We are deeply concerned about these people coming out of these difficult conditions."
The North Shore Regional Medical Center in Slidell, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans, remained fully operational with 174 beds, said Steve Campanini, spokesman for Tenet HealthCare, which operates it. Nurses have been flown in from other Tenet hospitals, and Tenet has launched its own private rescue flights, he said, aided by Coast Guard helicopters.
Five of Tenet's other hospitals have been evacuated, except for a doctor at Lindy Boggs Medical Center in New Orleans, who refuses to leave because staffers' pets are there, Campanini said.
Meadow Crest Hospital in Gretna, Louisiana, has been closed because of concerns regarding patient safety after a supply truck was hijacked by armed bandits, Campanini said. The facility was offered to the U.S. Navy on Friday for use as a temporary medical center, he said.
About 50 patients, some family members and employees of Kindred Hospital New Orleans have been evacuated to other facilities, Louisville, Kentucky-based Kindred Healthcare said in a statement Friday.
The receiving hospitals have primarily been in Houston, as well as non-Kindred hospitals in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
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