Workers in Saint Claire Regional Medical Center in Kentucky are worried over handling the COVID-19 surge in the state when the medical team sent by the federal government leaves on Friday.
The hospital, situated 65 miles east of Lexington, is one of the most overwhelmed hospitals due to the surge of COVID-19 patients. It is the largest health care facility catering to 11 counties in rural northeastern Kentucky.
Just last week, the hospital was at 130% above capacity according to St. Claire Health Care CEO Donald Lloyd.
“The only reason we are holding this lifeboat together is I have a federal disaster medical assistance team here, 14 people who have just been heroes to us. And, unfortunately, their deployment is over on Friday,” Dr. William Melah, the chief medical officer for St. Claire Health Care said Monday, CNN reported. “I’m going to lose 14 health care professionals, and I literally have no idea what we’re going to do on Friday.”
In a COVID-19 briefing Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear said that the hospitals in Kentucky are “struggling more today than at any other point during the pandemic.” Because of this scenario, Beshear said that around 400 National Guard troops will be deployed in 25 hospitals in the state.
“This is, I think, the largest deployment for a health care crisis in our commonwealth’s history,” Beshear said. “Every hospital that they go to not only talk about how it’s a morale boost, but it truly helps in the operation and it allows them to provide more care to more patients.”
The governor also said that an “army of nursing students” will be deployed across the state.
At the St. Claire hospital, there are five EMS teams and a medical team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Beshear said, adding: “We will continue look for any other way we can help.”
Dr. Melah, even though the hospital is struggling right now, said that St. Claire would not turn anyone away but also admitted that they do not know what to do with the influx of COVID-19 patients.
Last week, the situation in the hospital became challenging that some non-COVID patients waited for 24 hours to be admitted or until someone got better, or died, Melah said.
As of Monday, Kentucky reported over 620, 000 COVID-19 cases and more than 8, 000 deaths based on data from Johns Hopkins University. Around 50% of the state’s population is already vaccinated.
Melah also stressed that medical workers are not angry at patients but to those who have them thinking that the vaccines are not safe and that it is more dangerous to get vaccinated than getting infected with COVID-19.
“They hear that from experts, they hear from politicians and from social media. And we’re not here to be angry with them,” Melah said. “There’s actually one enemy and only one thing to be angry about and that is coronavirus. That’s the real enemy. And we’re at war with coronavirus.”