Field hospital’s staff at Lousiville fairgrounds could include licensed providers and volunteers, Beshear says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — To prepare for a possible COVID-19 surge, Governor Andy Beshear announced the fairgrounds at the Kentucky Expo Center will be converted into a 2,000-bed field hospital.

“It’s an opportunity to take care of those patients that are needing I’ll say sub-acute care,” Dr. Brad Olds said with KY-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). 

Olds said field hospital is a military term for a temporary treatment facility. While Kentucky is preparing for the worst, the Fairgrounds is no stranger to helping with emergencies.

“Expo center is a reasonable place to start,” Olds said. “The Ironman Norton Healthcare helps with at the convention center and they turn that into a mass casualty, sub-acute hospital.”

In 2005 the Red Cross used the fairgrounds to house Hurricane Katrina Evacuees that arrived in Louisville. 

“Then you’re going to have to move in everything else that you need whether it’s beds, partitions, medications let alone staff, let alone food for all these people,” Olds said. 

Olds has deployed with the federal government to disasters in the past like hurricanes. Depending on the level of acuity, he said a nurse would care for five to seven beds, but for intensive care units that would mean one to two patients per nurse.

“There are staff available to help with a large endeavor like this,” Olds said. “There were a lot of healthcare qualified people that have now been reduced in some regard whether it’s closing of offices are reduction of elective procedures. 

Challenges would be resources like medical supplies and food, as well as documenting and tracking patients.

“But I think setting this [field hospital] up like this in advance to get your staff or the participants involved and trained would help you,” Olds said. 

He said there also needs to be a plan on how families will get in touch with patients and where they can go once they are released. Governor Andy Beshear said they are still figuring out staffing which will include licensed healthcare providers and volunteers.

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