National Guard to help Miami Valley Hospital with COVID staffing shortages

Ohio governor Mike DeWine has called up the National Guard to assist hospitals facing staffing shortages. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Ohio governor Mike DeWine has called up the National Guard to assist hospitals facing staffing shortages. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

About 40 Ohio National Guard members will be helping Miami Valley Hospital with non-clinical work such as food service, cleaning and patient transport.

The members are coming to Dayton and 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 Wednesday shortly after Gov. Mike DeWine shared that an additional 1,250 guard members would be deployed to help hospitals.

Miami Valley Hospital also will be working with a staffing agency, which state health officials previously announced would also be helping shore up staff.

The guard will help with non-clinical tasks, such as transporting patients and cleaning rooms in between patients, said Mike Uhl, Miami Valley Hospital president. That can help with more efficiently freeing up beds so they can turn over for the next patient in the emergency department.

“When you think of some of the non-clinical functions that are vital to the day-to-day services we provide, the guards assistance will be able to help with those tasks,” Uhl said.

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As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 435 inpatients with COVID-19 in west central Ohio, which is almost double the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus two months ago in the region.

This translates to about 1 in 6 inpatients in the region who are COVID-19 positive. Of those 435 patients, 80 are in the ICU.

As cases and hospitalizations climb, Dr. Roberto Colón, chief medical officer with Miami Valley Hospital, said it is important people do what they can to slow the spread of the virus. That includes getting vaccinated and boosted if it is time, as well as masking when needed and following isolation and quarantine guidance.

“While we are receiving help from the National Guard ... we also need help from the general public in slowing down COVID,” he said.

Earlier this month 1,050 guard members were activated as Ohio’s hospitals continued to battle staffing shortages and high amount of COVID-19 patients.

Of those initially deployed, 150 members are medical personnel or EMTS and the remaining 900 will help with non-clinical work.

The first wave of Ohio National Guard members were sent to Mahoning, Trumbull, Summit, Stark and Lucas counties. Harris said about 460 members are in Cleveland, 160 in Toledo and 100 in Columbus.

Harris added the 40 guard members will arrive in the next couple of days. Dayton is the only city in Southwest Ohio where members are responding. The Ohio National Guard is working with the Ohio Hospital Association and state health department to determine where members are needed the most.

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Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UC Health, noted that while hospitals in Southwest Ohio are overwhelmed, they’re not experiencing the same crisis as those in Northern Ohio.

He added that hospitals are constantly in contact with each other to determine who needs the most help. As the pandemic continues, the demands will likely shift and Ohio National Guard members may be called to a different region.

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