William Lennarz, MD: Pediatric Care in the Gulf South

Strategic Alliance Partnership | <b>Ochsner Health System</b>

William Lennarz, MD, shares about the positive aspects of providing pediatric emergency care in New Orleans, as well as the challenge of preparing for the next big hurricane.

William Lennarz, MD, Pediatrics Systems Chair at Ochsner Medical Center, told MD Magazine® about the exceptional “friendliness and mixing bowl characteristics” of New Orleans. As a pediatric emergency medicine specialist, he has experienced the friendly and thankful nature of patients and families in the ER.

Aside from these cultural aspects, however, he says that providing emergency care in the gulf South requires preparation for hurricane season. As the only hospital providing pediatric care that remained open after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August 2005, Ochsner Medical Center is committed to emergency preparedness.

What makes practicing pediatric care in New Orleans unique?

What is the biggest challenge to providing pediatric emergency care in the Gulf South?

Well, I'm relatively new to New Orleans—been here just under 3 years—and I would say from the standpoint of practicing in the ER, the friendliness and mixing bowl characteristics of New Orleans, meaning there's all kinds of people who live here together, that diversity is really celebrated as a city. And that shows up when you treat people in the ER. Folks are really generally incredibly friendly, incredibly thankful. It might surprise some people to find out that in some settings you work in the ER and you hardly ever get a thanks, and I would say it's just the opposite here.The biggest challenge that is different is probably the looming awareness and the specter of a big storm. So, we at Ochsner—this hospital that you're sitting in—was the only hospital taking care of children that stayed open after Katrina. Our pediatric intensive care unit stayed open. So, we go through, around this time of year, actually a few months ago, a very careful planning, staffing model for different levels of emergency, and how we'll manage what staff will be in the hospital at the start, how they'll get relieved, that kind of thing. Disaster planning and disaster management is something that all hospitals across the country are responsible for doing, but I think here it has that reality of what happened 11 or 12 years ago. So, folks are very, very professional about it and it's incredibly well thought out and planned, and so I think everyone feels comfortable that if and when—God forbid—something like that would happen again, we would be very well equipped to take of them here at Ochsner.