Health

The field hospital at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville has nearly 300 beds ready to accept patients with COVID-19 should hospitals become overwhelmed, according to the Kentucky National Guard.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called for the field hospital in early April as cities around the world experienced a surge in patients in need of care because of the coronavirus pandemic. But as of Wednesday, the hospital had not received any patients.

“We’re there as long as the state needs us and I think this will be a resource available in the future, should we see a second spike,” said Major Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard spokesman.

The hospital at the fairgrounds is prepared to begin taking patients should the state’s total bed capacity exceed around 70%. At the time the facility opened the bed capacity hovered around 54%, said Col. Christian Stewart, a Senior Air Surgeon.

The site currently has 276 beds with the potential to scale up to about 2,000 beds. It also has enough masks, gloves and other equipment to operate at full capacity for about two months. If put into use, the hospital will manage patients who are stable and have fewer medical needs, Stewart said.

The site also expects to receive a medical decontamination unit in the coming days capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 N95 masks on a daily basis, Stewart said.

“Norton Healthcare has been helping to stand up the facility, I feel confident that they are aware that this is a resource if and when they need it,” Martin said.

The Kentucky National Guard did not have figures for the costs to operate for the facility, but Martin said it is a combination of state and federal funding. Between 200 and 300 guardsmen are staffing the fairgrounds are any one time.

The construction and operation of the site included Norton Healthcare, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kentucky National Guard.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.