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Mobile field hospital deploys to storm-ravaged Rolling Fork

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The young man in the center of the photo is searching for his friend just after sunrise. The tornado killed several people in the trailer park behind Chuck's Dairy Bar. Photo by David Day

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is coordinating with the Mississippi State Department of Health and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to deploy a mobile field hospital to Rolling Fork.

Large tents and other components necessary to create a hospital are being set up today at the National Guard Armory, 19719 U.S. 61 in Rolling Fork. When it becomes fully operational on Friday, it will be the temporary home of the Delta Health Center hospital and medical clinic system for both Sharkey and Issaquena counties.

It is the latest in a series of steps being taken by the state’s sole academic medical center, MSDH and MEMA to care for the injured and ill in Rolling Fork, which was mostly destroyed by a tornado that swept the area late Friday. Mississippi MED-COM, the state’s emergency communications hub located within UMMC’s Mississippi Center for Emergency Services, took action before the storm struck, calling Delta Health Center’s Emergency Department to alert staff to the tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service.

MCES immediately dispatched its FAST (Forward Assessment and Scene Triage) Teams to support the impacted communities. They’ve remained in Rolling Fork supporting local responders with round-the-clock medical and emergency assistance since late Friday night.

On Monday, the mobile clinic run by the School of Nursing at UMMC began operations in Rolling Fork, providing routine health care and filling other service gaps, such as giving residents prescriptions for medications that were lost or damaged because of the storm. The fully equipped van, which includes an exam room and patient registration area, will remain in place until the field hospital is fully deployed.

Delta Health Center staff will work in the field hospital, serving their same patients pending DHC facilities becoming operational again.

The mobile field hospital is a collaboration between MSDH and UMMC as part of the state’s medical response system for disasters. UMMC and MSDH also deployed a field hospital in Yazoo City in 2011 to give medical aid to victims of Mississippi River flooding, and to Louisville in 2014 to treat patients after a tornado damaged the Winston Medical Center. The field hospital in 2021 became an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients, setting up in UMMC’s Parking Garage B across from the Adult Emergency Department.

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