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Owensboro Health receives AmeriCorps volunteers to help with COVID strain

Owensboro Health

Some Kentucky hospitals stretched thin by the latest COVID-19 surge are turning to outside help to keep operations flowing. 

Eleven AmeriCorps volunteers arrived this week at Owensboro Health to assist with non-clinical work. Among them is Beth Lumia from Syracuse, New York, who’s used to helping build homes, bike trails, and community gardens.

“None of our team members have had experience working in a hospital," Lumia told WKU Public Radio. "A lot of us were nervous to leave where we were, but part of being an AmeriCorps member is adapting and jumping into any culture, or any experience, for that matter.”

Owensboro Health has been averaging 50 COVID-19 patients a day since the surge of the Omicron variant. The pandemic has also led to absences among staff members who contracted the virus. CEO Beth Steele says the AmeriCorps members are providing an important boost.

“These team members can do anything from get supplies, deliver meal trays. Every time a patient comes in, we need to turn over and clean rooms, explained Steele. "While the task mays seem very simple, they’re incredibly meaningful to our team.”

Owensboro Health hasn’t utilized the Kentucky National Guard as other hospitals havesince the start of the pandemic. Five other Kentucky hospitals are using Ameri Corp volunteers, including Baptist Health Hardin in Elizabethtown.

As of Tuesday, Owensboro Health had 52 COVID-19 patients, and 34 of them were unvaccinated. Health experts stress that vaccinated and boosted individuals have a far less chance of hospitalization or death than those who have not received the vaccine. Of the 29 deaths at the hospital so far this month, all but five of the patients were unvaccinated, according to hospital data.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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