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National Guard Troops Arrive At Peacehealth In Springfield To Help With COVID Surge

National Guard members arrived Monday at Peacehealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield. The hospital, like many in Oregon, is coping with the surge in COVID-19 patients due to the DELTA variant.

Sergeant Megan Holman is a trained medic but she told KLCC she didn’t expect to have this kind of assignment. But she’s happy to help.

“We’re pretty fresh in this,” Holman said. “So, we’re ready to go and help out with whatever they need from us. So, it’s kind of heartwarming to help the community that we, all of us live in, even.”

National Guard troops are doing tasks like handing out food trays, meal prep, and cleaning beds to help free up other staff to care for patients. As of Monday Peacehealth has 100 COVID patients and most of their 48 ICU beds are occupied.

The hospital has halted elective surgeries. It has also repurposed a surgery recovery area to add more ICU beds.

Peacehealth in Riverbend serves as a hub for Lane, Douglas and Coos counties. Dr. Melissa Edwards is surgical chief medical officer.

“It absolutely has been challenging on our medical staff, our nursing staff, all of our clinical care givers, to see a surge in COVID again,” Edwards said. “We never thought that we would see it come back and come back with this vengeance. But having the National Guard here is a tremendous morale booster for our staff and I think they’re incredibly proud and honored to welcome them here today.”

Edwards said she doesn’t see the surge letting up until well into September. The medical center is preparing for the potential need for alternate care sites.

Copyright 2021 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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