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Tent hospital erected in WNC to handle influx of COVID19 patients

As COVID19 cases continue to rise across North Carolina, Samaritan’s Purse announced Thursday it will build a 30-bed emergency field hospital to help with COVID-19 response in western North Carolina.

The facility will be located next to Caldwell Memorial Hospital. Construction on the field hospital began on New Year’s Day. 

Patients who are COVID-19 positive but are not in need of a ventilator will be able to seek care from the facility.

The field hospital will provide regional COVID-19 care support to help five health systems that are reaching capacity while anticipating an influx of additional patients. The field hospital will serve:

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)

This marks the operation of our fourth field hospital in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic (New York City; Italy; the Bahamas). Samaritan’s Purse also responded to the COVID-19 at the beginning of the Pandemic in North Carolina by donating personal protective equipment. In March, Samaritan’s Purse sent more than 50,000 face masks to hospitals in North Carolina.

“We have deployed Emergency Field Hospitals around the world in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, and disease,” said Samaritan’s Purse President 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.”

The field hospital was transported from the organization’s warehouse in North Wilkesboro via Samaritan’s Purse tractor-trailers. The mobile unit will be staffed by a Samaritan’s Purse team of disaster relief personnel, including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists. 

“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. 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,” noted Laura Easton, president, and CEO of Caldwell UNC Health Care.

On Friday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported adding 386 COVI19 patients to hospitals across the state bringing the total number of individuals hospitalized to 3,472 with 97 percent of hospitals in the state reporting. 

For the Mountain Region of the state, the state reported 223 individuals currently hospitalized due to COVID19 with half of the available ventilators in use. Mission Hospital reported treating 132 hospitalized patients on Thursday while Angel Medical Center in Franklin housed 10. Blue Ridge Regional Hospital has 7; Mission McDowell has 10; Transylvania Regional has 5.

With a continued increase in COVID19 cases locally, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office announced it will be closed the week of January 4, 2021 and will reopen on January 11, 2021 to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

Schools in North Carolina are scheduled to return for the Spring semester next week, with around half of districts in the state postponing returning for face-to-face instruction due to the spike in cases. 

At this time, Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties are moving forward with in-person instruction next week, however, the districts have informed the public they are monitoring local case numbers closely. 

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