CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Hospitals in West Virginia are at their breaking point when it comes to handling the influx of COVID-19 patients. In response, Governor Jim Justice has deployed the West Virginia national guard to help with the surge.
CAMC General is just one of the hospitals that need additional support. Gov. Justice has deployed around 300 soldiers to come in and help with nonclinical needs.
As Omicron cases spike, more and more patients need medical care but there’s just not enough staff to go around in all areas of hospitals.
“The capacity that we’re seeing at the hospital, there are some beds available but when you’re looking for ICU, that critical care, we’re truly at a shortage. And the thing to note is over the past 18 months, we actually have about 500 fewer beds available in West Virginia simply because of the staffing issues,” Jim Kauffman, Pres. of the WV Hospital Association said.
Hospitals are desperately doing everything they can to recruit more staff. In the meantime, National Guard members will be assisting with the daily workload of the hospitals.
“It could be working a testing center. It could be looking at security at the front desk. It could be helping take vital signs and record those vital signs down. Also looking at environmental services, nutritional services, Kaufman said.
Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the Adjutant General of the WVNG, says everyone needs to do their part to help with the overload.
“The Omicron variant is going through the population quickly; you can see that with the spike in cases. Everyone just needs to get the shot and the vaccine so they can be safe and continue to do your masking and social distancing when you’re in the crowd,” Crane said.
Over the course of the pandemic, officials say healthcare workers have quit or retired early due to being tired and burnt out. Now, they’re trying to ensure that the staff they do have; have the resources they need.
“Not just dollars, but mental health support. We’re using therapy dogs, stress managers; various ways to try to ease the anxiety the current staff is seeing,” Kaufman said.
The National Guard has already coordinated with CAMC. They’re set to deploy 25 troops starting on Monday. Grafton hospital is also in need and troops will be heading there soon as well.