Mission extended for NY National Guard Members deployed to nursing homes

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Members of the National Guard who have been deployed to nursing homes across New York State to assist with severe staffing shortages will stay in those roles a bit longer.

While initial deployment orders said the mission had an expected end date of April 1, 2022, News10NBC has learned that will be extended at least 30 days but likely until May 31.

There are currently 60 members of the National Guard stationed at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester.

When the members were first deployed to the region in early December, Monroe county was under a state of emergency. Hospitals were overcrowded and a big part of the reason why, was because most area nursing homes stopped accepting new patients. They were understaffed before the pandemic and because of it and the state’s vaccine mandate, staffing situations went from bad to worse.

“We have not rebounded,” said Monroe Community Hospital Executive Director of Alyssa Tallowe. “if you look at some of the data that has come out, nursing homes are still hundreds of thousands of jobs below what they were at pre-pandemic levels. So, we have never made that rebound and we are continuing to try to fight each other for staff.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would mobilize the National Guard to help and that’s what she did. MCH is currently hosting 26 national guard medics and 34 general soldiers.

“With their assistance, we’ve taken on over 100 admissions since they came here that is a decent amount of people bringing them out of the hospital system into a lower level of care a more appropriate level of care,” Tallowe said.

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC) – What are their duties, what are they doing right now and has that shifted or changed since they first got here?

Alyssa Tallowe – It has. And they’ve actually expanded their scope as well. The medics are working with patients directly as nursing assistants and the general Soldiers, we have used ours to help in our food service and nutrition department, our human resources department.

Jennifer Lewke – Sixty people is a lot… what will happen once their deployment is over?

Alyssa Tallowe – Once that transition happens and they’re no longer in the nursing homes you’re probably going to see nursing homes start to shut themselves back down a little bit more because now you might be getting fined if you take those admissions beyond that required ratio of patient care. That’s a new rule that the state is going to enforce.

Jennifer Lewke – Is there anyone in the pipeline?

Alyssa Tallowe – Yeah and we’ve actually used a general purpose soldier to help in our human resources department so that we can really focus on trying to expedite people coming in the door, trying to partner with MCC’s CNA training program to get people in the door so, we have been feverishly working and trying to recruit where we can.

A spokesman for the New York State Department of Health told News10NBC, “the provision of Executive Order No. 4 related to the National Guard will be extended for 30 days,” after which time it will be reassessed.

MCH expects it to be extended one more time after that and is planning for an end date of May 31.