Oregon National Guard to begin aiding hospitals Friday

Coronavirus

'Beyond grateful,' National Guard helps hospitals in crisis

Oregon National Guard Spc. Toby SeWell assigned to the Oregon Army National Guard Medical Command, administers the COVID-19 vaccination to a Salem resident at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore., Jan. 13, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Major Heather Bashor, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One hundred and fifty Oregon National Guard members arrived in Bend Thursday morning to prepare for assignments at St. Charles Hospitals.

The effort comes as part of the initial deployment announced by Gov. Kate Brown last week. The governor committed up to 1,500 guard members to assist frontline hospital workers amid the delta surge, 500 of which would begin assignments Aug. 20.

The much-needed support comes after an increase in healthcare staff shortages and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state.

“We are just beyond grateful for the National Guard coming to support us,” Rod Marchiando, Senior Vice President of Improvement and Strategy for St. Charles Health, told KOIN 6 News. “And the deep reason why is that we’re in a situation of unprecedented stress on the health system -not only due to certainly COVID but staffing-related issues as well.”

The guard has committed to supporting St. Charles through September, with members beginning to aid in non-clinical roles Friday.

“We’re reviewing a multitude of leader requests on where we have gaps, and matching up the skill sets within the group that’s coming from National Guard to identify where we can place them,” said Marchiando.

Guard members will be able to assist in screening patients, stocking supplies, preparing food and other roles that do not require licensure.

While the National Guard stepping into non-clinical positions will be a major help, Marchiando says hospitals in crisis continue to feel the void of clinical roles which remain largely unfulfilled. It’s a big help to our staffing needs, but we certainly have real deep gaps within our nursing staff and other clinical roles that are frankly worn out over this last year.”

Roughly 1,000 more guard members are expected to deploy to support state hospitals in the weeks to come.

“None of this could be possible without the support of the families of the National Guard, as well as the employers that support them,” added Marchiando. “We thank them so deeply for their sacrifice as well.”

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