WVU Medicine, Mon Health hospitals to receive National Guard support

·3 min read

Jan. 23—MORGANTOWN — Hospitals across the state are availing themselves of National Guard assistance, Gov. Jim Justice and his COVID leadership team announced and discussed regularly at his briefings.

That includes Ruby Memorial and other WVU Medicine hospitals, and Mon Health Medical Center and other Mon Health hospitals.

National Guard Adjutant General Bill Crane gives regular updates on requests for help via his Twitter account. He said on Friday they had 18 requests for support with an additional seven requests in process. Additional training for nearly 200 Guard members started this week.

The Guard's spokeswoman said the Guard members going out won't be performing patient care, but offering other support services, often to free up medical personnel who are doing administrative or other duties, so they can return to patient care.

Ruby Memorial in Morgantown and Charleston Area Medical Center top the list for the number of Guard members requested, with 25 each. At Ruby, they are slated to start work Tuesday.

Michael A. Grace, president of WVU Hospitals and chief administrative officer of the WVU Health System, said at Ruby, "We will use these good people in areas like patient transport, environmental services, nutrition services. More support roles but certainly very-important roles for the delivery of care here at Ruby."

No finite end time is set for receiving Guard support, he said ; it's open-ended.

At 22 months into the pandemic, he said, "We appreciate all help. ... Our people are tired. Health care is challenging right now.

"The biggest challenge is, " Grace said, "our people themselves catch COVID and therefore have to be off work for a period of time. That is the main taxing element."

The hospital has to find ways to fill those roles. "That's why a partnership like this is so valuable." It allows Ruby to plugs holes in support schedules that would stress existing staff even more, and allows staff some time off they might not otherwise get.

Grace said he wanted to express the gratitude of Ruby's leadership to the Guard and to Ruby employees. "It's a challenging time. You can't say thank you enough, as leaders."

Mon Health Medical Center has requested eight Guard members, and Mon Health's Preston Memorial has requested two, also to start Tuesday at both.

Jennifer Nestor, chief nursing officer at Mon Health Preston Memorial Hospital, said in an email exchange, "Across Mon Health System our staff members are working overtime, doing extra shifts and going above and beyond for our patients and the communities we serve. The ability to bring in the help of the National Guard will allow us to supplement some of those duties.

"The National Guard, " she said, "will be working within our radiology departments helping with patient transport, Environmental Services, Food and Nutrition Services, patient care support services, and at our COVID-19 testing sites across our system. We are very grateful for this opportunity and the ability to provide the needed relief to our staff."

Here are requests for other WVU Medicine hospitals: Princeton Community, 10 ; Jackson General, five ; Camden Clark, 12 ; UHC Bridgeport, eight ; Jefferson Medical Center, three ; St. Joseph in Buckhannon, two.

Here are requests at other Mon Health Hospitals: Stonewall Jackson, five ; Grafton City Hospital (a Mon Health affiliate), three.

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp EMAIL dbeard @dominionpost.com