National Guard arrives at two area hospitals to provide assistance due to COVID-19

Members of the Ohio National Guard are helping at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton as Ohio experiences staffing shortages at hospitals across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guard members arrived on Dec. 30, 2021, for orientation and have been assisting with food service, environmental services, patient transport and other non-clinical jobs. Members have arrived this week to perform similar duties at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown and Christ Hospital in Liberty Twp. Photo courtesy Premier Health

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Members of the Ohio National Guard are helping at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton as Ohio experiences staffing shortages at hospitals across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guard members arrived on Dec. 30, 2021, for orientation and have been assisting with food service, environmental services, patient transport and other non-clinical jobs. Members have arrived this week to perform similar duties at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown and Christ Hospital in Liberty Twp. Photo courtesy Premier Health

Guard handling various medical, non-clinical duties at Atrium, Christ, UC hospitals

At a time when COVID-19 cases are dropping in Southwest Ohio, members of the Ohio National Guard are arriving at two area hospitals and one in Cincinnati to assist with medical and non-clinical duties, according to hospital officials.

Guard members were deployed Monday to Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, Christ Hospital in Cincinnati and UC Medical Center to support hospital workers during the present surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to officials.

Members went through orientation Monday at AMC, then they will start performing non-clinical duties. It has not been determined how long the Guard will be deployed at Atrium, according to the hospital.

Dr. Keith Bricking, president of AMC, said there are several non-clinical functions that are “vital to the day-to-day care and services” at the hospital. Guard members will be on site during first- and second-shifts, seven days a week, officials said.

“The Ohio National Guard’s assistance with these tasks means we are able to more efficiently free up beds for the next patient,” he said.

Debbie Hayes, president and CEO of The Christ Hospital Health Network, said the hospital is grateful for the Guard because their effort decreases the “burden on our hospital team.”

Maj. Eric Bailey, a physician’s assistant from Waynesville, said joining the Christ Hospital team is “kind of like starting between 10 and 30 new employees on very short notice” with orientation one day and starting work the next.

About half his team has medical experience so it knows how to draw blood and check patients’ vital signs, Bailey said.

“It’s been difficult, it’s been stressful,” he said. “But we just show up and do our job like we have to, and we adjust and adapt, and do what we have to do.”

Sgt. Melissa McWilliams, a Dayton native, assigns soldiers where they’re needed.

“Everyone’s been so thankful that we’ve been there,” at various hospitals, McWilliams said. “They’ve been so gracious and so wonderful. It’s a really gratifying experience, just being one-on-one with patients.”

The 70 Guard troops at UC Medical joined the other 20 already there working: 10 medics in the Emergency Department and 10 non-clinical members in Environmental Services.

The guard members have been deployed to other hospitals around Ohio to help shore up staffing shortages, as workers quit, demand surges, and infections spread in the latest COVID-19 surge.

Ohio National Guard Major General John C. Harris, Jr. made the announcement after Gov. Mike DeWine shared that an additional 1,250 guard members would be deployed to help hospitals.

Overall, Ohio is seeing a decrease in COVID hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The 5,322 patients hospitalized with the virus on Monday is down 11% compared to a week ago and 15% compared to three weeks ago, according to OHA.

The state had 1,069 COVID patients in the ICU as of Monday. It’s a 9% decrease from last week and 19% decrease from three weeks ago.

Despite the overall decrease in hospitalized COVID patients across the state, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff warned that it’s much higher than previously reported during the pandemic.

Staff writer Kristen Spiker contributed to this report.

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Maj. Eric Bailey, a physician’s assistant from Waynesville and member of the Ohio National Guard, has joined the team at Christ Hospital to reduce the strain on staff during the COVID-19 increase. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Maj. Eric Bailey, a physician’s assistant from Waynesville and member of the Ohio National Guard, has joined the team at Christ Hospital to reduce the strain on staff during the COVID-19 increase. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Maj. Eric Bailey, a physician’s assistant from Waynesville and member of the Ohio National Guard, has joined the team at Christ Hospital to reduce the strain on staff during the COVID-19 increase. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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