Authorities began evacuating hospitals in New Orleans as part of a larger evacuation of the city as the water level there continued to rise after two levees collapsed following Hurricane Katrina. About 80% of the city was flooded with water up to 20 feet, CNN reported. Eventually, every hospital in the city will be evacuated, the Louisiana Hospital Association said. The association was working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine which facilities had the most urgent need. LHA President and Chief Executive Officer John Matessino said he wasn't sure how many patients needed to be evacuated or how long it will take. Tenet Healthcare Corp., which has five hospitals in the area, evacuated Memorial Medical Center and Lindy Boggs Medical Center in New Orleans and Gulf Coast Medical Center in Biloxi, Miss. Tenet said it had not estimated the cost of damage but expected to pay a significant bill despite insurance coverage. Meanwhile, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, was airlifting patients from Charity Hospital and Tulane University Hospital and Clinic. Both hospitals ran out of fuel this morning and authorities were trying to figure out how to transfer fuel available nearby through the flooded streets, the Times Picayune reported.
Donald Smithburg, head of the Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division, told the Picayune that disaster medical teams were en route from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and that the university healthcare system had enough physicians and other staff to handle the job. "I think it's not a question of having enough doctors and medics. It's a question of getting the patients out of New Orleans," Smithburg said. The state Department of Health and Hospitals, however, was seeking medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to assist in recovery efforts. -- by Joseph Mantone