Home » UK HealthCare constructing field hospital for potential COVID-19 patient surge

UK HealthCare constructing field hospital for potential COVID-19 patient surge

By Jay Blanton
Chief Communications Officer, University of Kentucky

Interior of Nutter Field House. Photo courtesy of UK Athletics.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 3, 2020) — UK HealthCare is moving ahead with plans for a 400-bed field hospital on the University of Kentucky campus to care for a potential surge in patients who contract the coronavirus (COVID-19), officials said Friday.

“As the commonwealth’s health care provider for advanced and critical care, it is essential that we are prepared for any scenario to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community and the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Mark F. Newman, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs. “We need to do whatever is necessary to ensure that highest quality of care is provided to meet the challenges associated with this unprecedented public health crisis.”

Specifically, Newman announced today that UK HealthCare is preparing to stand up a 400-bed field hospital that will be ready in the next two weeks at the Nutter Field House, the UK Football team’s practice facility on the south side of campus near Kroger Field.

“The University of Kentucky always comes through for Lexington and for Kentucky when we need them,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said in a statement released this morning. “At this time of national crisis, UK is stepping up once again, to provide the health care we need. For several weeks, we have been working and planning with our medical community to make sure we can meet the need … the demand we know is coming for medical care as the number of Covid-19 cases grows. Today, UK is taking us much closer to our goal.”

Details of that hospital include:

• Rooms will be partitioned.
• Standard Sub Flooring System, Nurses Stations, Heavy Duty Cots, Dedicated Break Rooms.
• Nebulizing Station or Area.
• Shower Units with Daily Sanitization, Universal Body Soap and Sanitization of Shower Units.
• Daily Towel Service, Restroom Units with Daily Sanitization, Portable Handwashing Stations.
• Daily Laundry Service.
• Temporary generated power to ensure potable water for food services, shower and restroom.

“Mitch Barnhart and the UK Athletics Department stood up immediately to offer assistance in meeting this public health crisis,” Newman said. “They have been, and continue to be, critical partners in our ability to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our community at this crucial time.”

UK and UK HealthCare officials have been working for weeks to map scenarios to handle patient care needs across the region. That work has continued in partnership with Lexington regional hospitals, the State Health Commissioner and Gov. Andy Beshear to address how and where patients would be cared for as the number of COVID-19 patients surges in the coming weeks.

Models of the trajectory of the virus vary regarding scope and depth of surge, Newman said. In addition, how efforts to “flatten the curve” through social distancing and other measures work will impact the need for a field hospital and other responses.

“We have been working internally for weeks on scenario mapping to be prepared to handle the critical care needs of our community and region — no matter the scenario. That’s our responsibility,” Newman said. “As the state’s leader in providing advanced, specialty care, that kind of methodical, strategic thought process has guided us as we’ve implemented in-house testing capacity, our drive-thru testing clinic and other measures.”

Specifically, state law allows for emergency purchase procedures (under KRS 45A-095) to ensure timely completion of this project. Newman said only one firm, ultimately, could dependably provide the range of those needs in the timeframe required. Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) is a Lexington-based logistic and emergency support services company, which offered the best range of services that could be put in place in such a quick timeframe. EDS, for example, has helped construct and stand up several field hospitals in other states already.

“This kind of planning and preparation speaks to our mission as the state’s largest health care provider and our responsibility to meet the critical-care needs of Kentucky,” Newman said. “This is who we are. This is what we do.”