August

From left, Billy Lewis of Colonial Heights Baptist Church helps Mark Randolf of Samaritan's Purse raise the walls of a field hospital Monday at UMMC.
From left, Billy Lewis of Colonial Heights Baptist Church helps Mark Randolf of Samaritan's Purse raise the walls of a field hospital Monday at UMMC.
Main Content

Samaritan’s Purse sets up COVID-19 field hospital at UMMC

Published on Monday, August 16, 2021

By: Marc Rolph, mrolph@umc.edu

A field hospital that includes critical care capacity is under construction today in a parking garage at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in response to record numbers of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the state. This will be the second field hospital deployed in a garage on the UMMC campus within a week.

Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that provides medical aid to people and areas in need, has been setting up a field hospital to offer supplemental hospital care for adult patients in the parking garage near Children’s of Mississippi Hospital. It joins a field hospital which opened Friday in another garage on the other side of UMMC’s campus for low-acuity COVID-19 patients and is staffed by medical professional sent to Mississippi by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A 32-bed Samaritan's Purse field hospital that includes five intensive care beds is set to open Wednesday at UMMC. Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse
A 32-bed Samaritan's Purse field hospital that includes five intensive care beds is set to open Wednesday at UMMC. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Both hospitals are the result of a collaboration among UMMC, the Mississippi State Department of health, the Office of the Governor and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Franklin Graham
Graham

"The UMMC staff, along with other medical personnel throughout the state, have been working hard to treat the sick and save lives,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. "We are thankful to be able to come alongside them to provide care and the compassion of Christ to those suffering from COVID-19."

The second field hospital set up by Samaritan’s Purse and staffed by their medical teams - including dozens of physicians, nurses, a pharmacist, a laboratory technician and support staff - will serve up to 32 patients at a time. The space will include five intensive care beds. The field hospital is expected to open for care Wednesday. Rapid Response Team chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will deploy alongside the field hospital to provide spiritual care.

LouAnn Woodward
Woodward

“In a medical crisis, having partners such as Samaritan’s Purse and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is essential to providing care,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor of health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “These field hospitals will provide the space, and most importantly, the additional medical professionals, to respond to the rising rate of COVID-19 in Mississippi.”

The increasingly dire situation in Mississippi’s health care system requires aid, she said.

“We have approximately 30 patients statewide, including upwards of 10 individuals at UMMC, waiting for ICU beds at any given time. These startling numbers prove just how critical the COVID_19 crisis is in the state,” Woodward said. 

About 10 Samaritan's Purse tents will make up the 32-bed field hospital set to open Wednesday at UMMC. The field hospital will include five intensive care beds.
About 10 Samaritan's Purse tents will make up the 32-bed field hospital set to open Wednesday at UMMC. The field hospital will include five intensive care beds.

Today the Mississippi Department of Health reported 7,839 new cases of COVID-19 from Aug. 13-15. This morning UMMC had 141 patients with COVID-19, including 22 children, six of whom are in an ICU. Hospitals around the state transfer severely ill COVID-19 patients to UMMC so they can receive a higher level of care.

Jonathan Wilson
Wilson

“These field hospitals are a resource not just for UMMC, but for the entire state and its hospitals,” said Dr. Jonathan Wilson, UMMC’s chief administrative officer. “As the number of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization are rising, the number of patients with other conditions, such as cardiac arrest, strokes or injuries from accidents, are not decreasing. Hospitals across the state are full. Additional beds and staff in these field hospitals are providing relief that Mississippi’s hospitals need.”

The field hospital staffed by about 36 HHS-deployed health care professionals is intended to treat COVID-19-positive patients who are experiencing low-acuity symptoms. That field hospital includes 20 beds as well as an outpatient clinic for administering monoclonal antibodies, a treatment that can help COVID-19 patients recover.

The outpatient clinic is expected to open early this week.

Hospital beds were moved into place in the Samaritan's Purse field hospital under construction at UMMC.
Hospital beds were moved into place in the Samaritan's Purse field hospital under construction at UMMC. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Samaritan’s Purse has opened five similar field hospitals in spots around the world, including New York and Los Angeles County, to support local health systems.

Woodward urged Mississippians to take precautions against the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated if eligible, social distancing and wearing face masks.

The actions Mississippians take now will reduce COVID-19 caseloads in October, she said.

“We are going to have a rough, rough August,” she said during an interview on The Gallo Show Monday, “and I hate to say it, but September is not looking too good either.”

More than 90 percent of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” Woodward said during a news conference at UMMC Thursday, “and that is our path out of this challenge that is before us.”