UK HealthCare

UK HealthCare to Construct Field Hospital to Handle Potential Surge in COVID-19 Patients

photo of interior of Nutter Field House
photo of exterior of Nutter Field House at Fan Day.  People are walking in a line to get into the facility to meet players.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 3, 2020) — UK HealthCare is moving ahead with plans for a 400-bed field hospital on the University of Kentucky campus to care for a potential surge in patients who contract the coronavirus (COVID-19), officials said Friday.

“As the Commonwealth’s health care provider for advanced and critical care, it is essential that we are prepared for any scenario to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community and the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Mark F. Newman, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs. “We need to do whatever is necessary to ensure that highest quality of care is provided to meet the challenges associated with this unprecedented public health crisis.”

Specifically, Newman announced today that UK HealthCare is preparing to stand up a 400-bed field hospital that will be ready in the next two weeks at the Nutter Field House, the UK Football team’s practice facility on the south side of campus near Kroger Field.

Details of that hospital include:

  • Rooms will be partitioned.
  • Standard Sub Flooring System, Nurses Stations, Heavy Duty Cots, Dedicated Break Rooms.
  • Nebulizing Station or Area.
  • Shower Units with Daily Sanitization, Universal Body Soap and Sanitization of Shower Units.
  • Daily Towel Service, Restroom Units with Daily Sanitization, Portable Handwashing Stations.
  • Daily Laundry Service.
  • Temporary generated power to ensure potable water for food services, shower and restroom.

“Mitch Barnhart and the UK Athletics Department stood up immediately to offer assistance in meeting this public health crisis,” Newman said. “They have been, and continue to be, critical partners in our ability to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our community at this crucial time.”

UK and UK HealthCare officials have been working for weeks to map scenarios to handle patient care needs across the region. That work has continued in partnership with Lexington regional hospitals, the State Health Commissioner and Gov. Andy Beshear to address how and where patients would be cared for as the number of COVID-19 patients surges in the coming weeks.

Models of the trajectory of the virus vary regarding scope and depth of surge, Newman said. In addition, how efforts to “flatten the curve” through social distancing and other measures work will impact the need for a field hospital and other responses.

“We have been working internally for weeks on scenario mapping to be prepared to handle the critical care needs of our community and region — no matter the scenario. That’s our responsibility,” Newman said.  “As the state’s leader in providing advanced, specialty care, that kind of methodical, strategic thought process has guided us as we’ve implemented in-house testing capacity, our drive-thru testing clinic and other measures.”

Specifically, state law allows for emergency purchase procedures (under KRS 45A-095) to ensure timely completion of this project. Newman said only one firm, ultimately, could dependably provide the range of those needs in the timeframe required. Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) is a Lexington-based logistic and emergency support services company, which offered the best range of services that could be put in place in such a quick timeframe. EDS, for example, has helped construct and stand up several field hospitals in other states already.

“This kind of planning and preparation speaks to our mission as the state’s largest health care provider and our responsibility to meet the critical-care needs of Kentucky,” Newman said. “This is who we are. This is what we do.”

To see a video of progression on the field hospital, visit UK's YouTube channel at

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.