Gov. Inslee deploying National Guard to hospitals amid omicron surge

Washington

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Washington Governor Jay Inslee is deploying National Guard members to help overcrowded hospitals amid the omicron surge, the governor announced during a press conference on Thursday.

Gov. Inslee said he is deploying 100 state National Guard members to hospitals across Washington. This includes Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Confluence Health/Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee.

Washington state health data shows 80% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated — a fact that frustrates Gov Inslee, especially as many hospitals are at or over capacity.

“We should not be happy that the fact that so many people who are unvaccinated have put us behind the eight ball on this, but that is the situation,” Inslee said.

Additionally, to help the strain on hospitals, Gov Inslee announced resources to help move some patients to long-term care facilities – which are currently battling staffing shortages. 

“We’re going to expand contract staffing and dedicate more to provide care in our nursing facilities to increase their capacity,” Inslee explained. 

The governor also said he is requiring hospitals to halt non-urgent procedures for four weeks to alleviate overcrowded hospitals.

Inslee called the decision difficult but necessary “so, as much capacity and staff can be dedicated to emergent needs to people who need this right now, not just for omicron patients but for heart attack victims, for car crash victims, for shot victims they all need help right now.” 

National Guard members will also help with COVID testing at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, UW Medicine/Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital.

Meanwhile, Inslee hopes to get help from another source — he’s calling on retired healthcare workers to return to the field.

“Look, even if you can help temporarily in a hospital – if you can help with testing, or vaccinations, or staffing a hospital, or a long-term care facility in your neighborhood,” Inslee said.


Retired healthcare workers wanting to answer the gov’s call for help in the field can visit waserv.gov.

Inslee also said the state plans to invest $30 million to speed up training opportunities for people trying to become nurses and medical assistants.

The governor is following in Oregon’s footsteps as Governor Kate Brown announced on Wednesday 1,200 National Guard troops will fan out to 50 hospitals starting Tuesday – helping out like they did last year.

Oregon hospitals are also being stretched at or beyond capacity. On Thursday, Oregon leaders and health officials announced new measures to help ease pressure on hospitals, but they also say much of that responsibility is on the public.

Clark County public health officials say they had a surge in hospitalizations this week. Right now, 96% of the county’s hospital beds are occupied and in Oregon, health officials saying hospitalizations are up 70% in the last two weeks. 

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