Last vacant hospital bed in Greater New Orleans available on first-climbed, first-served basis

Last vacant hospital bed in Greater New Orleans available a first-climbed, first-served basisDon Kiebels

An alarming surge of COVID-19 cases is overrunning New Orleans hospitals, creating a critical shortage of beds for patients. The desperate situation has left just one bed available in the entire metropolitan area, an auxiliary unit utilized in only the most extreme of emergencies and by high schoolers who’ve made a pact to get laid by prom.

“Many hospitals are near or reaching capacity,” said Dr. Alejandro Guzman, an emergency room physician. “So, we’re trying to be really creative with our resources in an attempt to fit more people.”

The overwhelming surge in COVID-19 cases has forced health officials to use storage rooms, cafeterias, conference rooms, and bathroom stalls for bedding units. Yet, despite the reinforcements, all of those available spaces have since been occupied — except for one. The currently available auxiliary bedding unit is part of the longstanding Adult Diapers facility in Metairie.

“When we have to turn patients away because our facility is full, I tell them to not give up hope (of getting a bed) — as long as their upper body is in good shape, they’re not afraid of heights, and probably should not have COVID,” Dr. Guzman said. “That’s all we can really offer at this point other than getting the vaccine.”

Health officials say they expect great demand for the bed, which is available on a first-climbed, first-served basis, and provides spectacular views of fights over parking at Lakeside Mall, Interstate 10 parades, and Orleans Parish refugees.

“The view is absolutely breathtaking,” said Louisiana Department of Health spokesman Dr. Nichole Bailey. “But it’s also probably from the COVID, so you know, push the nurse button anyway.”

New Orleans mountaineer Adam Pierreson, who once famously scaled Monkey Hill over 30 years ago, says he will be on hand to offer any advice he can to potential climbers.

“That bed is going to be one tough climb,” said Pierreson, who warned that getting to the peak will be even more difficult than what he experienced during his daring journey. “Back in ’97 on my way to the top (of Monkey Hill), I came across the bodies of four unfortunate people who had also attempted to make that treacherous climb but apparently ended up shooting each other to end the misery because it became too difficult and hopeless. Don’t let hubris drive your decisions. I’d just take my chances with the vaccine. The risk isn’t nearly as high as the desperation needed to get this bed.”

Massey’s Outfitters allegedly will open a pop-up shop in the vacant lot next to the facility, offering the latest in climbing gear for those looking to come out on top, or wherever they end up, in style.