National Guard arrives at Pikeville Medical Center

Posted at 7:31 PM, Aug 31, 2021

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — The city of Pikeville's hospital is nearing a record number of COVID-positive patients.

Triage tents were set up outside last week to improve the flow of admissions, but the CEO says he had to put in an additional call for help.

"There are people today fighting for their lives in our ICU," said Pikeville Medical Center CEO, Donovan Blackburn.

On Tuesday, 30 National Guard soldiers were deployed to the Pikeville Medical Center.

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Blackburn says seeing the uniforms in the lobby was a "relief."

"Having professional soldiers on the ground, helping us battle this pandemic. And that's what it is, it's a battle," said Blackburn. "We're at the point folks, where we can't take transfers in because we're full."

Blackburn says at last check, there were 82-COVID-positive patients at PMC, part of an escalation that started two months ago.

At last year's peak, Blackburn says the hospital saw a high of 83 COVID-positive patients, which was a rise that happened over a four-month period.

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While at PMC, the National Guard members have three main non-clinical objectives during their month-long mission.

"Transportation of patients, we're going to be helping with janitorial duties, and then we're going to be helping with traffic control," said Captain Kerby Schwer.

This is happening as parts of the county recover from around a round of flash flooding, so destructive that on Monday, the judge/executive declared a state of emergency.

As the county braced for more rain courtesy of Ida, Blackburn says the 30 soldiers will help his exhausted staff get through the next month.

"To see the National Guard actually deployed, should wake a few people up. This is urgent folks," said Blackburn.

Based on current case numbers, Blackburn says a plateau in hospitalizations may not happen for three-to-four weeks.