National Guard arrives to help local hospitals amid COVID surge

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) – Dozens more Ohio National Guard troops are in Northeast Ohio helping overwhelmed hospitals care for patients.

Dr. Robyn Strosaker, the chief operating officer for University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, says they are treating about double the number of COVID-19 patients than at any other peak of the pandemic.

She says on top of that, they have a huge shortage of medical staff and they are grateful for any help the Ohio National Guard can give them.

“They arrived this morning, we provided them with training on things like proper PPE, patient confidentiality, some of our processes and procedures to make sure that they know what to do, but they really then hit the ground running,” said Dr. Strosaker.

Fifty members of the Ohio National Guard were deployed Monday to five overwhelmed and understaffed Northeast Ohio medical centers run by University Hospitals.

Hospital officials gave us photos from UH Parma Medical Center.

“They’re doing things like answering call lights or sitting with patients who may be confused, to help remind them to stay in bed, helping with meal delivery or helping get rooms ready to be cleaned by our environmental service team members,” said Dr. Strosaker.

In addition to Parma, National Guard troops are helping out at the main UH campus in Cleveland, the Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood, Portage Medical Center in Ravenna and the University Hospitals Medical Center in Elyria.

“The fact that we’ve got the National Guard deployed in our hospitals, I think, really speaks to the severity of this surge right now. This is the worst that it’s been the entire pandemic, so I would just want to remind people to please take this seriously,” she said.

Dr. Strosaker says the main campus and community hospitals have been full for weeks.  She says they are treating about double the number of COVID-19 patients right now than at any other peak during the pandemic.

“I think it’s important for people to recognize that, not only do we have very, very high volume of patients, but we also have hundreds of our team members sidelined with COVID themselves, so this additional support has been really, really helpful,” she said.

UH health officials say their COVID-19 patients are primarily people who are not vaccinated or are vaccinated and have not received a booster shot.

“So the booster is very, very important. Wash hands, wear your mask, social distance, avoid large gatherings. I know it’s the holidays, but it’s really important,” said Strosaker.

The Ohio National Guard members will be working in the hospitals for a couple of weeks, 40 hours a week.

UH officials say there may be additional support in the coming days.

The current troops are in addition to the men and women operating the COVID-19 testing site in University Circle.

We reached out to the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth Medical Center, and so far, they have not had troops deployed to their hospitals.

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