Medical Center at Bowling Green

Lisa Autry

Even as the surge of COVID-19 cases recedes, the pandemic is still presenting challenges to hospitals, and opportunities. 

Nursing students from Western Kentucky University are on the front lines with seasoned health care workers as the pandemic forces all hands on deck. 

Katie Myers from Louisville is a third-semester nursing student who will graduate in May.  She’s been doing clinicals in the intensive care unit at the Medical Center in Bowling Green. She spoke to WKU Public Radio about her experience, which she said has opened her eyes to the stress health care workers face.

“There’s simply sometimes not enough beds for these really sick patients and it’s really hard to see health care workers having to make tough calls on which patient is going to get this bed for this higher level of care that needs it," stated Myers. "That’s been the hardest part about this, I think.”

Despite working under the most challenging circumstances, Myers says it hasn’t made her re-evaluate her career choice. In fact, it’s made her want to work even more in critical care nursing.

Somerset Pulaski County EMS

Governor Andy Beshear announced this week that more than half the  hospitals in Kentucky are reporting critical staff shortages as COVID-19 cases surge. That’s resulted in a lot of patient transfers to wherever beds and staff are available. 

To help ease overburned emergency response teams, Kentucky has recieved three Federal Emergency Management Agency strike teams to assist wth patient transport so local EMS crews have more time to respond to all types of emergency calls.

One of the three FEMA strike teams that arrived in Kentucky a few days ago was deployed to the assist in Pulaski County. Each FEMA team has five ambulances and at total of 10 EMTs and paramedics.

Lisa Autry

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is honoring the legacy of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen.

The region’s top infectious disease specialist died last year from COVID-19. A memorial tree was planted Monday afternoon on the hospital campus at the corner of High St. and 2nd Ave.

Her husband, retired physician David Shadowen, said one of her last professional acts is still having a positive impact.

“I think what people should remember about my wife is that she was really interested in patient care and taking care of people. The last big project she did was helping develop the COVID unit and protocols for taking care of COVID patients, which I think has been successful," Shadowen told reporters. "We’ve lost over 200 people in our area to COVID, but by the same token, we’ve had over 1,000 people in the hospital get out alive.”

Lisa Autry

Mitch McConnell is acknowledging his hand in restricting Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability to fill a vacancy in the event that one of the state’s U.S. Senators dies or leaves office early. 

During a stop in Bowling Green on Tuesday, Sen. McConnell said he’s “not going anywhere,” but  suggested legislative leaders change Kentucky law to limit the governor's power to appoint someone to temporarily take over for a senator until voters can elect a successor.  Lawmakers over-rode Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of the bill. 

While his office previously said McConnell supported it, the 79-year-old senator said on Tuesday he actually recommended the rule change.

“I had watched over the years the way Senate vacancies are filled in different states," McConnell told WKU Public Radio. "I thought the worst way to fill it was the way Kentucky law set it up so the governor alone picks somebody who can serve a fairly lengthy period of time before there’s an election.”

Lisa Autry

Some regional vaccination clinics in Kentucky are still offering the COVID-19 vaccine despite the winter storm. 

A clinic run by Kroger Health is open at Greenwood Mall in Bowling Green.  Bruce Kessler was there on Thursday and said he didn’t let the weather deter him from getting his first injection.  

“We’re fairly brave when we need to get out," Kessler said. "Front wheel drive vehicles are a marvelous creation, and I had been out yesterday and knew the roads were pretty okay where they had been scraped,   so I felt like we could get to the mall, no problem.”

Kessler received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine with his twin 18-year-old daughters.  His wife and son who are both educators have already received both doses.

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is finding success in an outpatient treatment for COVID-19. 

The hospital has given more than 500 monoclonal antibody infusions to patients with underlying health conditions who may be at risk of being hospitalized, or who might have a more serious case of the virus. 

The treatment is offered through drug-makers Eli Lilly and Regeneron.

“Both of these have been found to shorten the duration of the worst of the symptoms and help to decrease the severity of the virus in many patients," said Dr. Melinda Joyce, Vice President of Corporate Support Services for Med Center Health.

Lisa Autry

Kentucky hospitals say they can’t keep up with demand for the COVID-19 vaccine.  A scarcity of supply has given hospitals thousands more appointments than they can accommodate. 

The Medical Center at Bowling Green has received more than 12,000 requests for appointments the hospital hasn’t been able to schedule because it hasn’t received enough vaccine. 

"I am so, so very pleased with the desire for vaccine coming that's coming from our community," said Dr. Melinda Joyce, Vice President of Corporate Support Services for Med Center Health. "It's fabulous we have this many people who want to get vaccinated, and that's what we've always wanted from the very beginning."

Lisa Autry

Some Kentucky teachers are rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, and doing so ahead of schedule.  

The state’s rollout for school employees wasn’t scheduled to begin until late Jaunary or early February, but some communities have enough vaccine to let educators and support staff jump to the front of the line.

While the state is still rolling out the vaccine to health care workers and long-term care residents, some counties have moved on to the state’s next phase, which includes educators and all school staff such custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers. 

School personnel from Warren and Simpson counties are now getting the vaccine by appointment only at a mass distribution clinic operated by The Medical Center in Bowling Green.

Lori Dubree, the school nurse at Lost River Elementary, this week checked in at the Health Sciences Complex on the Medical Center campus where vaccinations are taking place.

Lisa Autry

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is casting a wider net in vaccinating the public against the coronavirus.

The hospital is serving as a mass vaccination site for people living in the south-central Kentucky region.

While most frontline health workers have already been immunized, the Medical Center is moving on with Phase 1B in the state’s vaccination plan.  This group includes first responder, K-12 school personnel, and seniors age 70 and older.

Med Center Health

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is serving as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site for health care workers. 

Med Center Health system is offering vaccine clinics to health care workers in the state’s 1a phase for vaccine distribution, which covers virtually all frontline staff who offer direct patient care in hospitals or long-term care settings. 

The Medical Center’s vaccination site is available to healthcare employees in all eight counties served by the Barren River District Health Department.  That covers the counties of Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Simpson, and Warren.

Dr. Melinda Joyce, Vice President of Corporate Support Services for Med Center Health, says there’s a reason many health care workers can’t be vaccinated at their place of employment.

Med Center Health

An emergency room physician who was the first person in Bowling Green to receive the COVID-19 vaccine says he hasn’t experienced any adverse reactions. 

Dr. William Moss at The Medical Center was first among frontline workers to receive the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.  He described the moment as euphoric after a difficult nine months of treating the sickest coronavirus patients.  Twenty-four hours after the injection, Moss said he was having no side effects other than soreness in his arm.

"The aches and pain, a little fever. We’re all going to have a little bit of an immune response and that’s actually a good thing," Moss said in an interview with WKU Public Radio. "That means it’s working.”

Med Center Health

You could say the Medical Center in Bowling Green struck pharmaceutical gold on Monday.  The 337-bed hospital received a portion of Kentucky’s first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine and has begun immunizing frontline workers. 

With fanfare, 975 doses were were delivered in a thermal shipping container labeled ‘fragile’ and its contents packed in dry ice.  The Medical Center was among 11 Kentucky hospitals to receive the vaccine first because it has a rare, ultra-cold freezer that can store the vaccine at minus 80 degrees, the required temperature for the Pfizer vaccine.

That's colder than temperatures in Antarctica.

Credit Marty Osbourn, Kentucky Pediatric/Adult Research COO

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is preparing to immunize nearly a thousand of its employees against the coronavirus once a vaccine receives emergency approval this month from the Food and Drug Administration.

It's one of 11 Kentucky hospitals selected to receive the first shipment of Pfizer's vaccine.  Dr. Melinda Joyce, a pharmacist and VP of Corporate Support Services for Med Center Health, says all 11 hospitals were chosen because they have rare, ultra cold freezers that can store the vaccine at minus 94 degrees, which is the required temperature for the vaccine.

“We’ve had one for a while because there are certain items used in the surgery area that need to be stored at that temperature, but most hospitals do not have that kind of freezer capability," Joyce told WKU Public Radio.

Emergency and critical care staff who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients will be among the first to get inoculated.

J.C. Kirby and Son Funeral Home

Funeral services are set for Bowling Green’s top infectious disease expert. Dr. Rebecca Shadowen passed away on Friday at the age of 62 following a four-month battle with COVID-19. 

According to her obituary, a walk-through visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m-9:00 p.m. at J.C. Kirby and Son Lovers Lane Chapel.  A private funeral service for family will be held at 1:00 p.m on Thursday, with burial to follow in Bowling Green Gardens.  The family requests all attendees wear masks and maintain social distancing to avoid the further spread of the coronavirus.