LENOIR — Boone-based Samaritan's Purse has officially opened a 30-bed emergency field hospital in Lenoir to help treat a potential surge of COVID-19 patients in the High Country. This is the second time Samaritan's Purse has deployed a field hospital in the United States.
The field hospital, next to Caldwell Memorial Hospital, specializes in respiratory care and will serve five area health systems, according to Samaritan's Purse.
A team of more than 46 disaster response specialists, including 24 medical professionals, are working at the hospital.
The five health systems are:
- Caldwell UNC Health Care (Lenoir)
- Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (Boone)
- Catawba Valley Health System (Hickory)
- Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge (Morganton)
- Frye Regional Medical Center (Hickory)
Melissa Strickland, a spokesperson for Samaritan’s Purse, said UNC Health Care and Caldwell Memorial Hospital approached the organization to explain the need for the field hospital while COVID-19 cases are surging.
“After some discussion and assessment, we concluded that we could indeed support them and deployed immediately after that,” Strickland said.
The field hospital is geared toward patients who are COVID-19 positive but do not need a ventilator. It does not have an intensive care unit, but patients can stay as long as needed, according to Strickland.
Samaritan's Purse started to move the field hospital from its North Wilkesboro warehouse on Jan. 1.
“These hospitals have come to us for help because they are full, and case numbers continue to rise,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a press release. “This is our home state, and we appreciate the frontline workers battling COVID-19 day in and day out. We are glad that we can be there to help lift the load. Our medical team is going to help provide professional, compassionate, and quality care to every patient who is sent to us.”
Caldwell Memorial Hospital was chosen because of its central location, according to Strickland. She also said the field hospital will stay as long as needed.
Strickland said the organization has never deployed in snow — which is expected for the High Country from Jan. 7 to Jan. 8. The field hospital is prepared with heaters in the tent.
“When we deployed in both Italy and in New York City, it was very, very cold,” Strickland said. “We’ve deployed in horrible rain and wind and everything else. So these tents are equipped to handle weather.”
Samaritan's Purse deployed three field hospitals in 2020 in New York, Italy and the Bahamas. According to Samaritan's Purse, those hospitals treated 680 patients.