BOONE, N.C. -- Today, the Samaritan's Purse Emergency Field Hospital, specially equipped with a respiratory care unit, opened in Cremona, Italy. The 68-bed unit was airlifted to Italy on March 17 using the relief organization's DC-8 cargo plane to provide critical surge capacity to an overwhelmed hospital. The tent facility began receiving patients as soon as it opened so that staff could begin helping Italians with urgent medical needs.
Every day, hundreds of people are dying in Italy as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and the Cremona Hospital has been forced to suspend all medical care except for maternity and pediatrics due to the overwhelming number of people suffering from the virus. The hospital is out of beds and people are suffering. To date, no patients in the hospital's intensive care unit have survived the virus.
"The situation in Italy is desperate. The hospitals are overrun and people are dying," said Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham. "We are called to respond in hard places. That's why our team of disaster response specialists are on the front lines-providing life-saving medical care and sharing God's love to people who are hurting."
The Emergency Field Hospital is adjacent to the local hospital. When Samaritan's Purse arrived with more than 20 tons of critical medical supplies, the hospital's staff were overwhelmed with gratitude. One staff member said, "You are bringing hope to the city-even if it is dangerous, even if it is a crisis moment. I think this is going to change my country."
In addition to what has already been sent, the Samaritan's Purse DC-8 will airlift a second cargo load of medical supplies along with disaster responders to Italy on March 21.
Interview Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, COVID-19 response manager at the organization's international headquarters
Interview Kelly Suter, medical director of the Emergency Field Hospital on the ground in Cremona, Italy
Interview medical personnel working at the Emergency Field Hospital in Italy
Broadcast Quality Broll and High-res photos of the response available here
As Samaritan's Purse provides critical care in Italy, the disaster response team continues to monitor the developing situation and is prepared to respond in the U.S. if asked. Our infectious disease experts have been working in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the team is taking necessary precautions.
Based in Boone, North Carolina, Samaritan's Purse responds to the physical and spiritual needs of individuals in crisis situations-especially in locations where few others are working. Led by President and CEO Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse works in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution. For more information, visit SamaritansPurse.org.