Kentucky National Guard arrives at UK HealthCare
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky National Guard arrived at UK HealthCare on Monday to help staff overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
“It’s their first day on the job and we can already feel the difference,” says Chris Petter, the enterprise director of logistics at UK HealthCare Supply Chain.
UK HealthCare says one of the ways the guardmembers are helping out is by unloading supply trucks at the hospital’s warehouse. The hospital says it used to see 2-3 trucks a night with supplies, but that number has almost doubled. The National Guard currently has five soldiers on site at the warehouse, unloading the trucks and filling orders to send to the hospital.
“One of the reasons we asked for assistance and our senior leadership reached out the the National Guard was just the amount of sheer volume that we’re seeing,” says Petter.
As of right now, the National Guard says it will be at UK HealthCare for two weeks with five soldiers, but additional help could be called in or the mission extended if needed.
“The Guard is prepared to do a lot of different tasks throughout the state,” says Staff Sergeant Christopher Watkins. “So we’re trained to very different tasks and quickly able to adapt to any situation that we need to.”
UK HealthCare says it’s up to 144 COVID-19 patients after having only seven hospitalized with the virus in July. Of the 144 hospitalized COVID patients, UK HealthCare says 121 are unvaccinated, including all 9 kids.
“I think the staff are tired, I think they’re disappointed that we were, we thought we were seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in July and here we are back at a very high level of covid,” says Colleen Swartz, Vice President of hospital operations at UK HealthCare. “When folks ask ‘how can we help?’, you can help by getting vaccinated and that’s really the bottom line.”