By Teri Nehrenz
Due to the shortage of staff and near capacity status for months, the National Guard (NG) has been called into St. George Regional Hospital to come to the rescue.
Hospital administration, clinical, and support staff are tired. The Omicron Variant of Covid-19 has had the hospital at close to full capacity since late summer.
Four Washington County individuals died last week of Covid-19. According to hospital management, the ICU has been over 100% capacity for months.
Staff did report a reduction in Omicron cases last week and hospitalizations are going down as well but things change with the pandemic daily and it’s difficult to stay on your toes when you’re dog tired.
It was reported that as of Feb. 8, 258 of the 284 beds were filled but only 62 of them were “Covid Patients”. In weeks prior there have been up to 90 covid patients at one time.
St. George Regional Hospital is very short on staff, the currently have 30 positions open in environmental services and approximately 25 open in foodservice. The shortages have forced clinical staff to take up the slack affecting immediate patient care needs.
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, 57 NG Members arrived with 11 of them assigned specifically to the hospital while others will divide their times between hospitals, long-term care facilities, and the Southern Utah Veteran’s Home.
Federal funding for the NG’s help runs out on April 1 although Washington may be adding additional funding, it is not yet known when or how much.
This is the first time the National Guard has been called in to relieve staff at hospitals in the State of Utah, they have however been helping at testing and vaccination sites.
Hospital work for the NG will include taking up the slack in the areas where the hospital is really short-staffed in the departments mentioned previously. NG will help take out the trash, change beds, serve food, and transport patients.
St. George Regional Hospital has expressed the same issue with applications that other area businesses are experiencing, a shortage of workers. With the hospital being 55 people short-staffed in just the non-clinical areas, they welcome help from Utah’s National Guard. It wasn’t stated how many clinical roles are currently open but an internet job site is listing 165 openings.