LANCASTER, Calif.—Samaritan’s Purse is deploying a 50-plus bed emergency field hospital to the City of Lancaster in response to what the evangelical organization is calling a dire situation as the result of the surging COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
The nondenominational organization points to the fact that California is among the states with the most confirmed cases per capita and that in Los Angeles County, one person reportedly dies from the disease every eight minutes. Of the more than 8,000 patients hospitalized, about 20 percent are in intensive care units (ICU).
More than 12,000 COVID-19 patients have died so far in Los Angeles County, Samaritan’s Purse stated in its announcement.
Edward Graham, grandson to evangelist Billy Graham, told The Epoch Times at a press event held at Antelope Valley Hospital’s parking lot where the field hospital is being set up, that he would like to see the community overcome the pandemic.
“My prayer is that our hospital gets to be part of a miracle and that our team here gets to see this community rise up out of this virus; that you start seeing people have victory over it,” Graham said. “But also, my prayer is for the community spiritually, that we get to share the hope that we believe in Jesus Christ.
“We’re not here to prophesize. We’re here to administer medicine and health. My father always said that medicine is a magnet for the gospel when we are treating someone that’s hurting and struggling. We just want to love our neighbor most of all. That’s what scripture calls us to do.”
Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, medical director of the emergency field hospital in Lancaster for Samaritan’s Purse, told The Epoch Times he has been serving in the same capacity internationally after catastrophes such as earthquakes and hurricanes for the past seven years.
“We never thought we’d be here in the United States,” Tenpenny said. “We’re pulled into it because COVID is so bad in different places. We’re happy to serve here, but it presents unique challenges.
“We’re excited that our doctors and nurses have risen to the challenge. The same ones that are deployed all around the world are here with us today to treat this disease.”
He said that any treatment that would be available at the hospital, other than ICU-level care, will be available at the mobile unit.
“We are here to provide short term care,” Tenpenny said. “We are like an extension of the hospital and we’re here to provide relief.”
In 2020, Samaritan’s Purse deployed three emergency field hospitals to Cremona in Italy, New York City, and the Bahamas in response to the pandemic—treating more than 680 patients at respiratory care units.
The mobile facility in Lancaster is the third emergency field hospital that the organization has deployed domestically, in effort to provide critical aid to patients.
Samaritan’s Purse opened its 30-bed hospital in Lenoir, North Carolina, on Jan 7. The mobile facility came to New York last April.
“When we heard Samaritan’s Purse was willing to help us with the current COVID-19 crisis, I was beyond thankful,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said at a press conference Jan. 11. “Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization that helps those in need around the world. They have been instrumental in responding worldwide to this pandemic, and we are fortunate to have their support here in the City of Lancaster. God is so good.”
Antelope Valley Hospital chief executive Ed Mirzabegian said he and the hospital staff were grateful for the support provided by Samaritan’s Purse, “as we anticipate another surge of COVID patients in the coming weeks, the help couldn’t have been more timely.”
“We have also been humbled by the support of the community, as volunteers help set up tents and bring in supplies needed for the field hospital. We have faith that together we will overcome this,” Mirzabegian said.
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, stated in a press release: “As COVID cases are still on the rise, we are deploying a second Emergency Field Hospital in the U.S.—this time to California. We have the opportunity to help relieve some of the pressure from the healthcare system in Lancaster, and we’re thankful our team can come alongside them.
“Please pray for the frontline workers fighting COVID every single day.”