Recently, West Virginia Governor, Jim Justice, and West Virginia National Guard, Major General Bill Crane, announced hundreds of guard soldiers would be deploying to hospitals across the state. Two of the hospitals receiving Guard members are WVU Medicine Braxton County Memorial Hospital (BCMH), and WVU Medicine Summersville Regional Medical Center (SRMC).
Like most West Virginia hospitals, including other WVU Medicine hospitals, BCMH and SRMC are facing staffing challenges. These challenges are largely due to COVID, but also because it is difficult to recruit and retain healthcare employees. When an illness such as COVID spreads throughout staff in a small facility, it can wreak havoc on an already stressed environment. When work teams are limited, and staffing is already a concern, it becomes difficult to fill shifts when a team member becomes ill or needs time off. The arrival of the National Guard troops has been a relief, as well as a morale boost for both facilities.
Guard members who are deployed to the Braxton and Sum-mersville campuses have been handling a wide range of tasks. Those activities have included screening patients and visitors at entry points, delivering patient meal trays, answering call lights on Med Surg, various Maintenance related tasks, and other duties they can assist with based on training and qualification. Although efforts have begun to plan for their departure from duties at the facilities, their assistance has been greatly appreciated.
CEO, Louis Roe, says, “I am very appreciative to have the support from the National Guard and our entire team looks forward to working with them. Their assistance comes as a sigh of relief during one of the most difficult times our country and our medical care community has ever experienced. I am also very appreciative of our healthcare team at both facilities. They have been and continue to be dedicated and committed. They have done a wonderful job caring for our community, and I am thankful for them and all they’ve done through the entire pandemic.”
Both Braxton and Summersville hospitals will have regular evaluations to determine if there is an ongoing need for Guard members, and ensure they are continuing to meet the healthcare needs and provide quality care to the community.