As we look back in this report at Ochsner’s progress in 2019, it is also necessary to take note of the unprecedented challenges that Ochsner and our community are facing in 2020. In March our world was hit by a deadly and unprecedented pandemic, one that has upended nearly every aspect of our lives. As an organization responsible for the health and well-being of many thousands of caregivers and more than a million patients across all 50 states and 70 countries, Ochsner remains fully engaged in the fight against this public health crisis.
I’m intensely proud, yet not surprised, that our organization has responded with remarkable grit, courage and humanity from the moment we identified our first patient in March. When the threat of COVID-19 became clear, we mobilized all of our resources to protect our employees and patients, caring for more than 900 COVID-19 patients in the first month alone. We took immediate steps to increase bed capacity at our facilities, expand our labs to process tests quickly and accurately, redeploy staff into critical care positions and bolster our supply chains to ensure reliable supplies of PPE and other equipment. The strength of our Research team continues to be on full display as we participate in national vaccine trials and lead community testing across Louisiana. The decisiveness with which we responded to this crisis has been crucial, but as always, it has been the strength and selflessness of our healthcare professionals that has carried us through.
Neither the Ochsner family nor the Gulf South communities we serve are strangers to periods of incredible strain and difficulty. We’ve faced down hurricanes, oil spills, floods and economic recessions, but no crisis has tested us like this one. New Orleans and Louisiana were particularly hard-hit in the early stages of the pandemic. Yet our community stood together, and Ochsner continues to benefit from remarkable community support. From the moving tributes to our doctors and nurses on social media, to the small local businesses who stepped up to provide PPE and other essential supplies, I’ve never been prouder to call this region home. The solidarity of our friends, families, neighbors and colleagues kept many of us going during this challenging time.
As I write, it is clear that this storm has not passed, although we have great confidence in the future. So we remain vigilant. Our organization will continue to work closely with communities and public health experts to maintain the highest level of care, while keeping everyone safe. For now, I want to give my heartfelt thanks to our patients, our supporters and especially our frontline employees who have stood with us in this time of incredible difficulty. We will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever, and their sacrifice and selflessness will never be forgotten.
Warner L. Thomas
President and Chief Executive Officer
To donate to programs that support our patients: ochsner.org/giving/donate