An aerial view of the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital in Cremona Italy. (Samaritan’s Purse Photo)

Woman raised in Shuswap on COVID-19 frontline with field hospital in Italy

Bev Kauffeldt is leading a medical team at the temporary hospital run by Samaritan’s Purse

The streets of Cremona, Italy are empty and silent except for the wail of ambulance sirens.

In the northern Italian city, a field hospital has been set up in tents so members of the Samaritan’s Purse aid group can treat patients sick with the COVID-19 virus.

According to Bev Kauffeldt, a team leader with organization, inside the temporary hospital wards there are sounds of suffering and of healing; the hiss of life-sustaining ventilators but also prayer and song.

Samaritan’s Purse airlifted their 68-bed field hospital, along with their staff of disaster response specialists, to Cremona on March 17. The city of about 72,000 is located south of Milan in the Lombardy region which has been battered by COVID-19.

As of April 3, Italy had more than 110,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 13,000 people had died according to the World Health Organization.

Read More: Column: Helping one another through these challenging times

Read More: Projections show between 3,000 and 15,000 could die from COVID-19 in Ontario

Kauffeldt, who grew up in Salmon Arm, is at the field hospital supporting the team of doctors and nurses working gruelling 12-hour shifts to care for patients suffering from the respiratory virus. She said most of the patients admitted to the temporary wards in the parking lot of Cremona’s hospital are seniors; many have been sick for some time and need a lot of care. Kauffeldt said the medical staff have been doing an incredible job providing immediate care as well as reading and praying with the patients, and assisting those with mobility issues outside so they can enjoy the spring sunshine. Some of the staff have learned Italian songs and brought flowers into the ward. Kauffeldt said the hope fostered by these acts of kindness is incredibly helpful to the patients.

As patients recover and are discharged from the field hospital, word of the care they received spread and Kauffeldt said that care had been reciprocated by the local community. She said her staff received numerous thanks from the grateful families of those they helped and locals made them baked goods. Kauffeldt said after one woman who was discharged told her story to an Italian newspaper, requests began coming in from people asking their sick relatives be moved to the field hospital.

The Samaritan’s Purse Hospital, made up of rows of long white tents, sits just across a grassy lawn from Cremona’s hospital. Kauffeldt said the situation at the 600-bed hospital was dire when Samaritan’s Purse arrived — 500 of the hospital’s beds were in use for COVID-19 cases, with the remainder reserved for pediatric and maternity care. The field hospital opened and began taking on some of the COVID-19 cases, including seven to 10 requiring intensive care and ventilators. Kauffeldt said since the field hospital opened to assist them, the main hospital has been able to open 60 beds for critical care of ailments besides COVID-19.

Read More: Military to help fight COVID in Quebec; deaths pass 150 as cases near 12,000

Read More: Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Kauffeldt said she has been dealing with the Governor of Lombardy and the Mayor of Cremona who have both been very accommodating and thankful for the assistance as their region weathers the crisis. According to Kauffeldt, the mayor himself contracted COVID-19.

Kauffeldt said faith is an ally in coping with the inescapably stressful situation of responding to a pandemic.

Along with faith, the Samaritans Purse team has experience and professionalism to draw upon in facing the pandemic. Kauffeldt served with Samaritan’s Purse in the West African nation of Liberia. Her work there included responding to the Ebola epidemic which struck the country in 2014. She also helped respond to Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kauffeldt said some of her colleagues participated in a Samaritan’s Purse mission to a war torn part of Iraq near the city of Mosul in 2016.

Kauffeldt said her parents Colin and Jacquie Mayes were a major inspiration in her choice to pursue a life of public service far from home. Colin was the Shuswap’s MP from 2006 to 2015. She said she also gained an interest in other cultures from teachers at Salmon Arm Secondary, and has drawn on the teamwork and perseverance she learned playing hockey and basketball on teams coached by Roy Sakaki and Terry Michel.

Having seen the results of an out of control COVID-19 outbreak firsthand, Kauffeldt said she hopes residents of Salmon Arm and the rest of Canada heed measures aimed at stopping the virus’ spread. She described the death toll in Cremona as staggering and said she would hate to see any other community go through what it has.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A patient is wheeled into the ICU of the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital in Cremona, Italy. (Samaritan’s Purse Photo)

Just Posted

Over Zoom, Armstrong council seeks new meeting space

BRIEFS: Centennial Auditorium under consideration as council looks to resume open meetings

Fundraiser launched for Enderby drive-in

Vernon resident seeks to raise $20K to save Starlight Drive-In

Duck nests at Vernon drive-thru

Mother has hatched four ducklings just inches from the steady stream of vehicles

North and Central Okanagan on flood watch

Kalamalka Lake users are asked to take measure to reduce the risk… Continue reading

VIDEO: Flowers stolen from Vernon distillery

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery captured surveillance footage of the thief in a black car

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Central Okanagan schools ready to welcome students back

Students are set to go back to school next Monday, June 1

Houseboat company partly owned by Shuswap MLA withdraws controversial ad

The ad welcomed houseboaters from other provinces, contradicting anti COVID-19 measures.

Squabble between campers in North Shuswap leads to bear spraying

An argument over late night partying escalated into a fight which led to one person being sprayed

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places

Trying to inconspicuously drink on the beach could become a thing of the past

Unique ‘the Wedge’ development makes way back to Kelowna council

Council initially deferred its decision on the project in March

Most Read