6th January 2021
Edward Graham travelled to Lenoir, North Carolina, today where our Emergency Field Hospital is expected to receive its first patients later this week in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the region.
“Like the rest of the country and especially here in western North Carolina, COVID has ravaged the healthcare system,” he said, while meeting with our medical teams and leaders from local healthcare systems. Graham serves as assistant to the vice president of programmes and government relations for Samaritan’s Purse.
“Caldwell UNC Health Care reached out to Samaritan’s Purse about partnering and setting up one of our field hospitals, and that is what we are doing,” he said. “I’m so excited and encouraged to be here with our incredible medical teams. These are challenging times, but we are excited to be serving in the Name of Jesus Christ. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to love on our fellow neighbours here in North Carolina with great medical care and to do this to share the hope of Jesus Christ. We appreciate your prayers and support.”
Top executives of the five healthcare systems we’re partnering with also visited the hospital as our teams are busy putting the final details into place before receiving COVID-19 patients.
Laura Easton, president and CEO of Caldwell UNC Health Care, said the recent jump in COVID-19 cases is already pushing the medical centre past capacity.
“All of our staff have really been putting in 110 percent. For example, in our hospital we normally have about 55 patients each day, and today we have 107. We are absolutely at double capacity which means our staff is all working overtime in non-traditional settings taking care of patients.”
Easton emphasised the importance of communities all working together during the COVID-19 crisis.
“This battle against COVID is really a community-wide and region-wide effort,” she said. “Now, with the arrival of Samaritan’s Purse and the personnel that they are bringing, this is a national effort. It takes all of us working together.”
Samaritan’s Purse began setting up an Emergency Field Hospital on 1 January in Lenoir after a December spike in COVID-19 cases in the western part of the state. This marks the operation of our fourth field hospital in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic (New York City; Italy; the Bahamas).
“We have deployed Emergency Field Hospitals around the world in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, and disease,” said Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham. “Now, it is needed in our backyard. We are grateful we can come alongside North Carolina hospitals in Jesus’ Name to care for patients suffering from the coronavirus.”
As hospitals in the region are at maximum capacity following an influx of coronavirus patients, area healthcare systems asked Samaritan’s Purse to assist. The mobile unit will be staffed by our team of disaster relief personnel, including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists. Patients receiving treatment at our site will be limited to those who are COVID-positive but do not need the support of a ventilator.
We are working with five regional medical partners:
“On behalf of all the health systems participating in this effort, I’d like to thank Samaritan’s Purse for making this investment in the well-being of our communities,” said Laura Easton.” Planning for this added capacity now will help us provide the level of care our communities need as volumes continue to grow in our region.”
The field hospital was transported on New Year’s Day from our warehouse in North Wilkesboro via Samaritan’s Purse tractor trailers. It is now being constructed on the grounds of Caldwell UNC Health Care, a site chosen for its central location.
Eleven volunteers from the Lenoir Fire Department served with us on 2 January. Ken Hair, the department’s chief, said, “This is our community. It (the Emergency Field Hospital) is being set up at the hospital less than 1 mile away from our station. We are all public servants, and this is our job—to do what we can to help during the pandemic. We are affected like everyone else, and we’ve got to do what we can to help.”
“We are very thankful for Samaritan’s Purse,” he continued, “and grateful to do this in our community.”
Please pray for communities impacted by this outbreak, for medical workers providing care, and for our teams and medical staff as they serve in Jesus’ Name.
Note: The international headquarters of Samaritan’s Purse is located in Boone, North Carolina.