Thursday, March 23, 2023

UMMC to Open Second Field Hospital, with ICU Beds, in Parking Garage as COVID-19 Explodes

By Will Stribling

Mississippi Today

UMMC staffers arrive with beds to be used for the Covid19 field hospital currently being set up in the basement of Parking Garage B, Thursday, August 12, 2021. Photo by Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

The University of Mississippi Medical Center will open a second field hospital in one of its parking garages, another attempt at propping up a hospital system on the verge of collapse due to a surge of COVID-19 patients. 

Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization, will build and staff the field hospital, which is expected to contain 30-50 patient beds. An estimated 5-10 of those beds will be ICU beds. None of the 50 or so beds in the field hospital UMMC opened on Friday are ICU level. 

Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and son of the late Christian evangelist Billy Graham, tweeted a picture Sunday morning of three loaded trucks and trailers en route to Mississippi.

This is the latest development in a period where MEMA is seeking out any help it can get from the federal government and the private sector to get Mississippi hospitals staffing that is desperately needed. 

Over the past week, Mississippi broke its single-day COVID-19 case record three times. On Wednesday, Dr. Alan Jones, UMMC associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, said that “failure of the hospital system in Mississippi” would occur within 5-10 days if the rate of hospitalizations did not subside. It has not.

The staffing crisis at UMMC is so dire that the hospital has enlisted the help of second year medical student volunteers to keep the original field hospital operating. The volunteers are not treating patients, but transporting them to and from the field hospital, as well as other upkeep duties like bringing meals and changing bed linens. 

PHOTOS: A look inside UMMC’s parking garage field hospital.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.