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Pikeville Medical Center reopen respiratory triage unit as COVID cases rise


PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) — Health care professional feel as if they took one step forward with COVID-19 vaccinations, but now they feel as if they’re taking two steps back.

PMC opened the respiratory triage unit to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients tied to the delta variant. The unit hadn’t been used since 2020.

“We’ve stopped elective procedures that would require admission and the reason why is we need beds,” said Dr. Aaron Crum, Chief Medical Officer at Pikeville Medical Center.

Patients arriving at the emergency department will be treated in two separate groups. Those with mild symptoms will receive treatment in the triage unit. Those with more serious conditions will be taken to the COVID ward.

“Their COVID wings are so full that there St. Claire has had to open new ones in Morehead and Pikeville put up tents to help triage people outside to the emergency room,” said Governor Andy Beshear.

Emergency Department Physician John Fleming said their department is dealing with staff burnout as most hospitals are. PMC does have contingency plans in place should an outbreak occur with its staff.

“If it comes to the point where we don’t have enough staff to cover all the patients we have. We may be forced to use staff who test positive but are well enough to work to take care of COVID-positive patients,” Fleming said.

Gov. Beshear said on Aug. 18, President Joe Biden extended reimbursement to states for mobilizing National Guard personnel in support of COVID-19 response efforts beyond the original deadline of Sept. 30, through the end of the calendar year.

The Kentucky National Guard will provide logistical and administrative support to local hospitals beginning Sept. 1. There will be a dedicated National Guard central command for this mission, and deployments will be in two-week increments. The initial deployment will include 75 Guardsmen, in five teams of 15 people.

Starting locations are:

  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green;
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead; and
  • Pikeville Medical Center.

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