COVID-19 field hospital in Lenoir to close as cases, hospitalizations drop

LENOIR, N.C. — Cases and hospitalizations are improving so much that a field hospital in Lenoir is getting ready to close.

Samaritan’s Purse opened the 30-bed field hospital outside of Caldwell Memorial because of high community spread, but the county health department said things are finally starting to turn around.

Health officials said the number of positive COVID-19 cases has dropped every week during the month of January.

The surge after Thanksgiving and the high number of hospitalizations across the foothills and the mountains led to Samaritan’s Purse setting up the field hospital.

During the last month, they have treated 79 patients in the tents outside of Caldwell Memorial.

The team included more than 46 disaster response specialists, including 24 medical professionals. Officials said some of the doctors and nurses who treated patients worked in Italy and New York City.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty got an inside look at the field hospital earlier this year.

Four of the tents held up to eight patients each and the other tents consisted of a pharmacy and other support personnel.

The unit provided COVID-19 support and assisted five health care systems in western North Carolina.

The systems include:

  • Caldwell UNC Health Care in Lenoir
  • Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Boone
  • Catawba Valley Health System in Hickory
  • Carolina Healthcare System Blue Ridge in Morganton
  • Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory

The site of the field hospital was chosen because of its central location to the health care systems.

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On Tuesday morning, Channel 9 could see them removing beds and sanitizing tens that are no longer in use. Officials said they only have three patients left and those will be discharged in the next 24 hours.

The health department said the positivity rate has also dropped in Caldwell County from 35% to just over 20%.