With positive COVID-19 cases rising dramatically in Western Carolina over the last several weeks, health care professionals decided extra measures were needed.
UNC Caldwell, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Carolina Healthcare System Blue Ridge, Frye Regional Medical Center and Catawba Valley Health System worked with Samaritan's Purse to set up a field hospital in Lenoir. Samaritan's Purse is a non-denominational Christian humanitarian aid organization based in Boone, North Carolina, and has assisted victims of war, natural disasters, disease, family and poverty in more than 100 countries.
One of the doctors overseeing the specialized facility is Dr. David Lowry, a 2018 alumnus of The Graduate School at Lenoir-Rhyne University where he earned an MBA.
"We reached out to Samaritan's Purse knowing they had established a COVID-19 emergency field hospital in Italy and New York," Lowry said. "We asked if there was a way that Samaritan's Purse could deploy assets to help this region."
Samaritan's Purse and all five health systems collaborated on the 30-bed hospital for a six-week contract to try and get cases under control.
"The response has been positive from the get-go," Lowry said. "The field hospital is centrally located, but it's adjacent to a brick and mortar building for pharmacy support, X-ray and lab support. Physicians are volunteers supplied through Samaritan's Purse. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists have flown in from all around the country to be here."
The first patients arrived to the new facility on Jan. 7.
"The plan right now is to operate the field hospital for 4 to 6 weeks," Lowry said. "The projection is that this current spike we're going through is anticipated to peak in early-to-mid February. Then it's supposed to gradually go down. We're hoping this helps put an end to that."