Oregon National Guard soldiers who are helping fill staff shortages at St. Charles are getting rave reviews from patients and caregivers.
The National Guard deployment at St. Charles Medical Center has been extended through October.
The citizen soldiers in fatigues and hospital scrubs are everywhere throughout the hospital, taking visitors temperature as soon as they walk in the front door, delivering supplies, meals and cleaning.
“I empty the garbage, strip the dirty linens and then wipe down everything,” said Private First Class Cantero as she cleaned a patient room. “Clean the restroom. Mop the floor.”
“We primarily restock the rooms. We’ll help patients out, take them down to their vehicles…” said Staff Sgt. Damon McLaren, Oregon National Guard. “If nurses or doctors need specific equipment, we’ll fetch those for them.”
The National Guard was called up in August to help St. Charles’ four hospitals deal with the double whammy of the COVID pandemic and a staffing short.
“It was one thing to hear the hospital was short-staffed but to be here and see that we are actually helping…picking up the small things…stocking, cleaning and stuff. It doesn’t feel like much and then hearing from the nurses and staff that it’s one less thing they have to worry about and they can focus on patient care,” McLaren said. “That means a lot and it’s pretty cool to be a part of.”
“You guys staying busy?”
“Yes sir!” responded Private Wells and Specialist Bottorff as they filled medical supply carts.
“This is an amazing assignment. This is the National Guard’s bread and butter. They give a sense of fulfillment that you don’t get when you go overseas. You have your brothers in arms and you have your mission, but here, you see the mission and you see the good that you are doing,” said Staff Sgt. Clint Graeber. “You see the people that thank you everyday. I get at least one thank you every day and it warms your heart, it really does.”
St. Charles president and CEO Joe Sluka said the hospital system is “tremendously grateful for the Oregon National Guard members who left their jobs and families to answer our call for help.”
Sluka said the soldiers are bridging gaps in staffing that are critical to hospital operations.