Guard members activated to support hospitals
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread across our state, health care providers have seen a huge spike in demand for COVID-19 tests. At the same time, hospitals are facing staffing shortages, as health care providers are not immune to the virus. As a result, Gov. Jay Inslee has requested 100 Washington National Guard personnel to help alleviate staffing demands and offer testing capabilities at eight hospitals across our state.
“These are non-clinical personnel, across the state, to help hospitals with nonmedical tasks, to alleviate issues, particularly in their emergency departments, and also to add testing capacity at these hospitals to get the testing to alleviate the challenge in emergency departments,” Inslee said during a press conference.
Guard personnel were activated on January 21 to support three COVID-19 testing sites in Olympia, Seattle and Tacoma and perform non-clinical duties at hospitals in Everett, Richland, Spokane, Wenatchee and Yakima. Their duties will include transportation, meal delivery and supporting staff with clerical duties.
“They’ve asked for the National Guard to step out of their civilian lives, and the guard is going to do that,” Inslee added. “I don’t know if there is a better Guard than ours in the United States.”
Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty echoed the Governor’s message.
“We have been heavily committed to this pandemic response, along with a number of other missions, so we have to balance our commitments not just here in the state but also around the world,” Daugherty said. “I just want to add that we are truly grateful to the employers and the families of our Guard members and everything they have done to support us.”
Since March 2020, more than 2,500 Washington National Guard members have deployed in support of the COVID-19 pandemic response.