CLEVELAND — A team of 20 U.S. Air Force medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists, will be deployed to the Cleveland Clinic main campus next week after the Biden administration approved a request from the hospital system and the Ohio Department of Health. The deployment of medical professionals is part of a new plan by the Biden administration to provide support to the states hit hardest by COVID-19.
The team will help Cleveland Clinic open closed hospital beds and accept transfers from other facilities, according to Meredith Foxx, the executive chief nursing officer for Cleveland Clinic.
“We’re so grateful for the team that the federal government is sending to us here at the Cleveland Clinic,” Foxx said. “We have been up against not being able to have patients be transferred to some of our facilities and receive care at the Cleveland Clinic. [We’ve also had to] close some beds and patients not being able to receive care. This is going to really help us provide some of that care to patients that we haven’t been able to serve as of late.”
The Cleveland Clinic asked for additional support as hospitalizations were peaking in their hospitals, and the Ohio Department of Health coordinated with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and FEMA for assistance. Similar past deployments have lasted for about one to two months, officials said.
“Our daily COVID-19 case counts remain historically high, averaging well over 17,000 new cases every day. Simply put, community spread is rampant,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the Ohio Dept. of Health. “What we see in the President’s action is a clear validation of the fact that Ohio has been on the front end of this surge, along with a number of other states.”
Vanderhoff said at a press briefing on Thursday morning that the deployment of the federal medical personnel isn’t being done to replace or supplant existing Clinic staff but, instead, add to it.
“We are looking forward to being able to take care of more patients and being able to deliver on that world-class care and not having to indirectly turn people away,” Foxx said. “The help that has provided so far within our own organization and the National Guard that we’ve already had here at the organization has been so uplifting and put smiles on so many of our caregiver’s faces.”
Additionally, the Ohio National Guard is deploying more members to COVID-19 testing centers in other parts of the state, including Gallipolis, Toledo, and Mansfield, bringing the total number of members deployed to 2,300. President Biden Thursday also announced the purchase of 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests, a website to order them free of charge, and promised to release a plan next week that would provide high-quality masks to Americans for free.
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