▶️ National Guard sends soldiers to help hospitals during COVID peak, staff shortage

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The Oregon Army National Guard is responding to St. Charles Medical System’s call for help during the COVID crisis.

Citizen soldiers of the National Guard will be assigned support roles in the hospitals so doctors and nurses can focus on patient care.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, this is the first time the Oregon National Guard has been called up in direct support of the St. Charles Medical system.

Soldiers reported for duty in Bend on Thursday.

Their duty records were updated and they were assigned support roles in the local hospitals.

“We are here to assist St. Charles in any role other than actually administering aid to patients,” said Guardswoman Richee Payne, of Redmond. “Whether it be janitorial services,  kitchen services, administrative services, things like that. A lot of us are getting assigned our roles today.”

More than 150 citizen soldiers reported to the armory in Bend.

They’ll begin working at St Charles’ four local hospitals as early as Friday morning.

They’ll work 8- to 12-hour shifts through Sept. 30.

“I know that these hospitals are overwhelmed and tired,” said Guardswoman Shannon Binder from Condon.The fact that we can come in and try to help these men and women and give them anything we can possibly give them… we are here to help. That’s why we joined the Oregon National Guard. We are here to help the people of Oregon.”

About a third of the soldiers are locals and will be able to go home at night.

The rest will stay in hotels.

“They are mostly non-clinical folks who will be helping us in really much-needed areas, including things like helping with room turnover. Support for lab services. Helping with patient way-finding kinds of missions,” said Jeff Absalon, Chief Physician Executive at St. Charles Medical Center. “We are really grateful and appreciative of their presence at this time of need.”

National Guard soldiers may wear military uniforms or hospital scrubs depending on their assignments.

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