KY National Guard deploying at UK HealthCare as unvaccinated COVID patients mount

·2 min read

The Kentucky Army National Guard has been deployed to the University of Kentucky’s inundated hospital system to assist staff as they continue to treat an influx of COVID-19 patients.

In the Monday morning announcement to news outlets, UK said the National Guard was “providing non-clinical logistical and administrative support to hospital staff.”

UK on Friday was treating more adult and child patients for COVID-19 than at any time during the pandemic — 156 people, 15 of whom were under age 18. By Monday morning, the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients had dropped slightly to 144 people— nine of whom were children, all unvaccinated, a hospital spokeswoman said. Of the total 144 patients, 84% were unvaccinated. Fifty-three patients filled UK’s intensive care units Monday, 86% of whom weren’t vaccinated.

Like other Kentucky hospitals overrun with coronavirus patients — nearly 70% of the state’s 96 hospitals have critical staffing shortages — the Lexington-based hospital system has re-allocated staff and funneled resources into expanding capacity to treat a sharp spike of adult and child coronavirus patients. UK HealthCare includes Good Samaritan Hospital, the Kentucky Children’s Hospital and the Albert B. Chandler Hospital. In late August, UK added more negative pressure inpatient rooms at the children’s hospital to treat more kids with coronavirus, and moved its neonatal ICU patients from the children’s hospital to Chandler to add more space for patients under age 18.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andy Beshear deployed more than 400 members of the Kentucky National Guard to assist at 21 hospitals across the commonwealth, including Baptist Health Lexington, as they struggle with a flood of patients, staffing shortages and waning resources. Members of the National Guard were previously assisting at hospitals in Morehead, Pikeville and Hazard. “If you need a hospital bed right now in Kentucky, there has never been a greater likelihood that there’s not a bed available to you,” he said at the time.

That continues to be the case. Last Thursday and Friday, there were fewer than 100 adult intensive care unit beds open across Kentucky hospitals each day — a record low. “Our hospitals are already being overrun,” Beshear said on Friday, adding that Kentucky had a record 463 patients on a ventilator and 24 children hospitalized with the virus.

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