National Guard being deployed to local hospitals to alleviate pressure on frontline workers

Stark, Summit, Trumbull counties to get help
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Posted at 2:10 PM, Dec 22, 2021

CLEVELAND — After Ohio reported 12,502 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday—the highest “true” daily case count Ohio has seen so far— the state’s top doctor, the adjutant general of the Ohio National Guard and other local health officials laid out the current situation in the state’s hospitals along with what’s being done to bring in additional support to healthcare workers on the frontline providing life-saving treatment 22 months into the pandemic.

Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine said the dire situation inside Ohio hospitals is due to a tidal wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations largely driven by unvaccinated Ohioans.

“Our hospitals are literally pleading with members of their communities to choose to be vaccinated,” said Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Bruce Vanderhoff Wednesday.

While vaccination is crucial to prevent hospitalizations, Vanderhoff said it won’t relieve the pressure immediately because full immunity takes time to develop.

It’s why DeWine announced he would deploy more than 1,000 National Guard members to help alleviate the pressure on the hospitals. The Ohio National Guard will deploy 150 members who are trained nurses and an additional 600 non-staff will be deployed by the end of the week. The remaining 300 non-clinical staff are expected to be deployed next week.

Happening in waves, the hospitals in the initial deployment include:

  • Mercy Health St. Elizabeth in Mahoning County
  • Mercy Health St. Joseph in Trumbull County 
  • Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center
  • Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital in Stark County
  • Summa Akron City Hospital 
  • ProMedica Toledo
  • Mercy Health St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo

Overall, between 52-53% of the National Guard members are fully vaccinated in Ohio. In the Air National Guard, 92% of the members are vaccinated. Major General John C. Harris, Jr., adjutant general of the Ohio National Guard, said on Tuesday all the deployed members for this mission are fully vaccinated.
"Is it safe to put a person with only the first shot who's still waiting to get the second shot into a hospital? I don't — right now, we're not going to do that. If a person's had their second shot, we just administer the booster to them. How safe is it to put them in the hospital? All these things we're weighing," said Harris.

In order to transition the members to work in the hospitals, members must have their CPR certification and be properly trained in HIPAA laws.

There are two categories of people from the National Guard who are brought in for this response. One category is medical professionals trained as nurses and EMTs who will be doing bedside care. The second are non-clinical members who will cover a variety of tasks inside the hospitals like cleaning surfaces, as well as transporting food and patients.

The Ohio National Guard is already helping hospitals in Cleveland emergency rooms and at a new COVID-19 testing site at the W. O. Walker Building where more than 1,000 tests were administered Tuesday.

“One day of a brand-new site, we faced limits regarding what we could do. Rest assured, we're working. We'll work every day to increase the capacity at the testing site,” Vanderhoff said.


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