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UK HealthCare Hospitals Prepare For COVID-19 Surge As Kentucky Hits Record High

Mark Cornelison | University of Kentucky

As Kentucky continues to post record high numbers of coronavirus cases, University of Kentucky HealthCare hospitals revealed plans to accommodate an expected spike of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

UK’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington treats COVID-19 patients from the city and some coronavirus patients have been transferred from other Kentucky hospitals. 

Over the last two weeks, the hospitals have seen a sharp increase of 20 to 25 additional COVID-19 patients. Despite the rise, the hospitals have not reached bed capacity.


The UK hospital system has 945 hospital beds. Colleen Swartz, UK HealthCare vice president for hospital operations, said hospitals have the capacity to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients.  

“We have a plan for surge capacity in Pavilion A where we can surge up to 300 patients with our existing footprint,” Swartz said.

UK hospital officials also said they monitor personal protective equipment and have an adequate supply. 

Although hospitals take measures to keep the virus from spreading, Mark Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs, said people are waiting too long to seek health care. 

“The hospital is a safe place. And so if people need to seek care, I really want to reiterate that they should seek care,” Newman said.

Kentucky recorded 9,335 COVID-19 cases last week — an all-time high for the state. On Monday, 953 cases were reported, the highest number of cases reported on a Monday, according to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. The governor emphasized that the escalation of cases is not due simply to additional testing. The state’s rate of positive tests is also rising. 

As the flu season begins, Swartz said hospitals will begin testing for both the flu and COVID-19 this week.

“We can do one swab and test for both flu and Covid, so some of the symptoms are very, very similar with those two disease states,” Swartz said. “But obviously, some treatments are different.”

The purpose of the dual test is to treat patients quickly when they arrive at hospitals. Officials say that mask wearing, social distancing and hand-washing are necessary to control the spread of the pandemic.

For more information, visit the Ohio Valley ReSource’sCOVID Data Tracker for Kentucky.

The Ohio Valley ReSource gets support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and our partner stations.  

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