Samaritan’s Purse opened Mississippi’s second field hospital Aug. 18 in the parking garage at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which has been stretched thin as hospitalizations have soared in the state from the COVID-19 Delta variant.
By the end of the week, the Samaritan’s Purse hospital’s five-bed intensive care unit was already full, according to team leader Kelly Sites.
“We’ve received quite a good number of patients already,” she said.
In addition to the five ICU beds, the field hospital has 27 ICU step-down beds, with 50 clinical and administrative staff members manning the operation.
Alyssa Benson, media relations coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse, said the relief organization sent an assessment team to Mississippi last week after the governor reached out to them.
“The team determined this is a hotspot with the Delta variant, and they worked alongside UMMC to determine the scope,” Benson said.
From there, Samaritan’s Purse mobilized a team of disaster response specialists, human resources administrators, doctors and nurses who worked around the clock for three days to get ready to accept patients Aug. 18.
Sites, who came from Michigan to help, said they want to support the “absolutely exhausted” UMMC hospital staff.
“As I walked through the halls, so many would stop me and get teary, saying, ‘Just seeing you arrive has given us hope,’” she said. “They felt they could take a breath, that help was there.”
Sites said the Samaritan’s Purse team wants to help relieve some of the pressure hospital staff may feel and “share the love of Christ with our patients and give them quality, compassionate care.”
The field hospital in Mississippi is the sixth Samaritan’s Purse has deployed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. It is the first the charity has deployed for pandemic-related needs since January of this year.
At the moment, the only other Samaritan’s Purse field hospital operating right now is caring for the medical needs of earthquake victims in Haiti.