MOREHEAD, Ky. — St. Claire Healthcare has put up a field hospital to handle the surge of COVID-19 patients

The hospital is an hour away from Lexington treating patients in the Central and Eastern Kentucky region. 

What You Need To Know

  • Field hospital set up at St. Claire Healthcare's parking lot

  • The tent is being used to manage the overflow from the emergency department

  • Mid-August the Morehead hospital turned a unit into a COVID-19 surge ICU

  • Kentucky National Guard will help this week with patient care


Two weeks ago, the hospital converted the post-anesthesia care unit into a COVID-19 surge ICU. Now, the health care teams work to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases with a new tent set up in the parking lot.

"We are still working on getting electric to it so it'll be air-conditioned, it'll have lighting and it will have positive pressure ventilation," said Sarah Flynn, an emergency department nurse manager.

Emergency department nurse manager Sarah Flynn coordinates setting up the tent as a field hospital in Morehead. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

Flynn took a short break to speak  with Spectrum News 1 on Monday explaining the tent set up on Sunday in Rowan County.

"This is the first time we've seen something to this number. I remember last year we were afraid of this overwhelming amount of COVID[-19] and we did well. There was masking, there was social distancing, we didn't get as overwhelmed as we are now," Flynn said. 

The feeling of being overwhelmed is due to the rise in daily and weekly COVID-19 cases in the region and limited resources.

"Well, we are running out of resources, so we're running out of ICU beds today we don't have any ICU beds at this moment, we are running out of med surge beds we are just kind of running out of space, and we don't have the hands to care for them," Flynn said.

The blue tent will help manage the overflow of patients. It’s a waiting room and an overflow care area for the emergency department Flynn explained.

"I don't think people see how much these patients go through that have COVID[-19] they suffer, they struggle. That's something that I guess people don't see. They just kind of think it's like the flu. It's not the flu. It's way more lethal, it does more damage and it causes more disability than I think we're even aware of yet," Flynn said.

The COVID-19 surge has continued in the last two weeks. Mid-August, the hospital turned their post-anesthesia unit into a COVID-19 surge ICU. Last week, they initiated a Code Yellow Disaster Response to combat the fourth surge and reallocate resources.

"I see, you know it has finally come to Rowan County," said Judge-Executive Harry Clark.

The widespread surge in cases is putting the dire situation in plain sight for people in the area, Clark said.

A generator is being connected to the tent to provide AC and electricity to treat patients. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

"We knew this was coming, but you know when they notify you yesterday that we're going to start putting this tent up it's like OK, you know it's really here, it's outside our door it's in our community and here it is it's not in Texas, you don't have to go watch the evening news you can just drop past our hospital now and see a tent up," Clark said.

Now it's going from the brick and mortar into the field so health care teams can respond to the fourth COVID-19 surge in the region.

"Previously we were having to utilize the patient just sitting in their car, we couldn't guarantee anybody's safety in that way. so this is a better option.

Flynn said the Kentucky National Guard will help with patient care in the tent this week.