National Guard teams helping Ky. hospitals handle omicron surge

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:35 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Dr. Steven Stack said hospitals are struggling to keep up with the COVID-19 surge. Hospitals have called on the Kentucky National Guard to help manage the surge.

There are now 450 National Guard members at multiple Kentucky hospitals. That includes in Lexington.

“There’s a lot of burden the pandemic has put on our frontline critical staff. As well as our clinical support staff, the people who work in laboratory or radiology,” said Dr. Greg Repass with Baptist Health Lexington.

Dr. Repass said this isn’t the first surge in cases we’ve seen. But unlike delta, omicron is so contagious that it’s now going through healthcare workers at a time where hospitals are already short staffed.

“To know that their work comes with a risk of exposure is a burden, as well. We do all of the things we can to give them the best personal protective equipment and masks to protect them at work, but the omicron variant is ubiquitous and it’s out there,” Dr. Repass said.

National Guard teams have been deployed to help. Teams of 15 are now taking over non-clinical roles at Baptist Health Lexington and Richmond.

“It is one more thing to impact hospitals, is the fact that staffing continues to be an issue,” said Dr. Erica Gregonis, the chief medical officer at Baptist Health Richmond.

Dr. Gregonis said they’ve seen a steady increase in hospitalizations since the holidays.

“We currently have 18 patients admitted with COVID here in the hospital. Prior to this we had gotten down to the single digits. There were days when we were having two or three in the hospital,” Dr. Gregonis said.

As hospitals face these new stressors, both doctors urge you not to go to the emergency room unless it is an absolute emergency.

Dr. Gregonis said the National Guard plans to be there for the next four weeks.

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