BOONE, N.C. (WBTV) - As the Coronavirus overwhelms hospitals in New York City, a North Carolina-based charity organization is stepping in to help.
After transporting materials from North Carolina to New York and moving quickly to assemble them, Samaritan’s Purse has opened a field hospital in Central Park.
What the Christian organization calls its “emergency relief hospital” has been used for hurricane and war relief, but it is now being used to help fight the pandemic.
Healthcare workers are there from across the country.
"Things are very quiet here, the streets are not very busy,” nurse practitioner Shelly Kelly says. “So, it feels surreal but I'm very excited to be here. I feel honored to step alongside my brothers and sisters in the medical profession who are working really hard day and night here in New York City to provide the best patient care possible."
Samaritan’s Purse packed up supplies and loaded four trucks from North Carolina, to be delivered to the site at Central Park.
They are working with the state, FEMA, and local hospitals to open 68 beds, specifically as a respiratory care unit. 10 will be used as ICU beds for the sickest patients, and the 58 others for less severe patients on oxygen who need therapy.
The hospital is now accepting patients.
"We know that, while this is small in comparison to the big hospital standing right behind us, but if we all do our part, it really does make a difference,” COVID-19 response team leader for Samaritan’s Purse Elliott Tenpenny says.
At the same time, Samaritan’s Purse is also running an identical field hospital in Italy. It is the first time they have had two operating simultaneously.
During his press conference on Tuesday, President Donald Trump praised Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Franklin Graham is an extraordinary person. And Samaritan’s Purse has been, like so many others, has been amazing. And so fast. They did it so fast. He’s been doing that for a long time but I think people are really seeing what they have done,” President Trump said.