National Guard requested at three UK hospitals in Lexington to help with COVID-19 care

Posted at 5:38 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 17:38:18-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Things have gone from bad to worse inside the three hospitals within the UK Healthcare system. Staff members at Chandler, Good Samaritan, and the Kentucky Children’s Hospitals are maxed out on COVID-19 patients.

“I think the recession of hospitalization from COVID and then this surge with the Delta Variant has just been very taxing both emotionally and physically,” said Coleen Swartz, the Director of Hospital Operations.

And it’s not just taking a toll on those inside the hospital. Chris Petter and his medical supply staff are strapped as well.

“I’ll give you an example,” he told a group of reporters on Monday. “There’s a tubing we use on COVID patients. Usually, we see 500-1,000 used in a month. Now we’re seeing around 10,000. So instead of getting one palette of this (tubing) a month, we’re getting 2-3 palettes every week,” he explained.

Petter and his staff need help moving things around inside the warehouse and then getting into the three hospitals. Enter, the National Guard.

“I never thought I’d be working here,” said Staff Sergeant Christopher Watkins. “But we’re needed.”

Sgt. Watkins and five members of The Guard will be working in this warehouse helping Petter’s staff for the next few weeks and beyond if necessary. UK’s hospitals have become the latest in the state to use this resource, which Governor Andy Beshear offered several weeks ago. Last week LEX 18 told you about CHI St. Joseph doing the same.

UK’s Chandler hospital is a gold standard for healthcare, and its level-one trauma center is used from every corner of the state. (When you hear the term, “the patient was airlifted,” that helicopter is landing on the Chandler roof.) Usually, their staff members never meet a challenge they can’t tackle, but the need for this assistance from the National Guard shows just how bad things are spiraling out of control with the virus.

“Our partners rely on us a lot to take those patients who need a higher level of care. I think we’re geared up for short bursts of this kind of care, but this has been wearing one now,” Swartz said.