COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Nearly two years in, Ohio is experiencing some of its highest numbers of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new record of case numbers reported Wednesday.
There are also more patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 than at any time during the pandemic, which is increasing the need for help at hospitals.
Ohio National Guard members started helping out at Mount Carmel East Wednesday, with other Columbus-area hospitals expecting help in the coming days. Statewide, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is asking for the help of 1,200 additional guardsmen.
“They are motivated, they are eager to learn and help in any way they can, and truly, they are a blessing to our community at this time,” Mount Carmel Health System President and CEO Lorraine Lutton said of the guard members.
The 70 guardsmen at Mount Carmel will be working in non-clinical roles like patient transports, stocking supplies, helping in the pharmacy, food services, and more.
Lutton said the help allows her staff to focus more on patients and work to increase capacity.
“The majority of our clinical staff are tired, are anxious, are, some days, exhausted, but remain committed to taking care of the patient in front of them,” she said.
A little more than 1,000 National Guard members have already been called upon to help with hospital staffing shortages statewide. DeWine said hospital leaders have told him they need more. On Wednesday, he called for an additional 1,250 members. All told, there will be 2,300 guardsmen in the state’s hospitals.
“Everybody is on the same page here, let’s deploy them where they are needed the most,” he said at a news conference.
According to Ohio National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John Harris, about 100 members are helping in the Columbus area.
“The guard really has two missions here,” Harris said. “One is augmenting the medical staff and the other is augmenting the wraparound services as hospitals expand their capacity.”
When asked if there would be any help from the federal level, DeWine said he’s been talking to government officials, but there is nothing to announce at this point.