National Guard deployed to hospitals across Arkansas as COVID-19 cases surge
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KY3) - Mountain Home is among eight cities where members of the Arkansas National Guard are stationed to provide medical support during the ongoing COVID-19 surge.
The governor announced the move in his weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday. The state has more than doubled its active case numbers in the last week.
“Omicron is here, it is here, it is raging across Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “But we’ve got to hold the line and get through January and into February where we hope to see this surge diminish just like it has in other countries.”
At Baxter Regional Medical Center, the help is accepted with open arms. The hospital reported 80 employees out Wednesday.
”We’re experiencing a great deal of shortage in staffing across the medical system, not only nursing but multiple areas,” said the hospitals chief operating officer David Fox. “In our laboratory area, one of those areas that were an appropriate allocation for those Army National Guardsmen.“
The guardsmen are helping with COVID-19 community testing at the hospital. Fox said in recent months the hospital has averaged roughly 30 tests per day. In January that number is near 200 daily.
”It’s surreal in a sense, before coming here I knew it was a thing, but I hadn’t experienced in person or seen it happen,” saic PCF Devaundre West, a stationed guardsmen. “Even if I can’t see their faces, just seeing those words: positive, negative. You just hope it says negative, but then you see it come back and it just hits you.”
”It’s non-stop, I’m going down there, I swab one person and then three or four more cars show up behind that one,” said PCF Ryan Jones. “I enlisted for the Army National Guard as infantry, I honestly never thought I’d be doing this.”
All national guard soldiers around the state are stationed for the next 30 days. Nurses and hospital personnel are hopeful within that time we will be on the other side of the omicron spike.
”We’re happy to receive that assistance, we need all the assistance we can to get our hands around this insurgence of this omicron variant,” said Jones.
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