National Guard troops now on ground to help offset workload in healthcare system

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — National Guard troops are now on the ground in Rochester to offset some of the workload in our health care systems. The troops arrived Saturday morning. 26 of them will work in teams of two inside Monroe Community Hospital, the county’s nursing home.

120 National Guard members were deployed state-wide. They are EMT trained, which means they can give injections, insert IV lines and more. The goal is to increase Rochester’s hospital capacity, taking some weight off of facilities that are severely understaffed.

"We’re licensed for 566 beds, so what we are going to do is take some of those short-term rehab and long-term care nursing home residents that are currently bottlenecked in the hospitals,” said Alyssa Tallo, the executive health director for Monroe Community Hospital.

The addition of 26 National Guard members inside the hospital will eventually allow other health care systems, such as Strong Memorial, to start releasing certain patients to the nursing home who do not need hospital care any longer, freeing up more beds, if the number of patients with COVID keeps going up.

"We were kind of hunkered down at this point, as most nursing homes are, and that is where the problem arises for the health care systems. Everyone is trying to conserve and stay at a place where they’re comfortable, so for us, we did have challenges…we’re asking staff to really push themselves,” Tallo said.

The army medics have been trained the same as an EMT, so, what will they be doing inside the hospital?

"They will be working with residents for bathing, dressing transfers toileting, those types of duties,” Tallo added.

Directors inside Monroe Community Hospital say every step is another hurdle for the health care systems.

"I don’t think we’re going to be out of the woods, this is going to be a long-term challenge,” Tallo said.

The hospital is slated to get a total of 26 members. The first group that came in Saturday will train through the weekend and will start taking care of patients Monday.