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We are very grateful for Ohio National Guard

When Gov. Mike DeWine ordered 1,250 members of the Ohio National Guard mobilized to help hospitals across the state, most of us were just beginning to understand the renewed strain on our hospitals and health-care workers caused by variants of COVID-19.

The goal was to provide relief and help tackle COVID-related staffing shortages.

The omicron variant, indeed, has increased the volume of patients seen in our state’s hospitals, making the staffing shortages only a bigger problem. Burnout suffered by those who have been working on the front line of this pandemic for nearly two years now is very real. They can use all the help they can get.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said 750 Guard members, including 150 medical personnel, were to be deployed to seven hospitals in northern Ohio hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest will be helping with patient transport, housekeeping and food services. Their duty began Dec. 20.

We are optimistic that the deployment is making a difference.

Some of the EMT-trained Ohio National Guardsmen have been assigned to assist at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and St. Joseph Warren Hospital, according to Mercy Health Youngstown.

In a prepared statement, Mercy Health offered its gratitude to the Ohio National Guard. The hospital system also stressed the need for all of us to do our part to stay safe. It urged wearing masks when appropriate, washing hands frequently and avoiding contact with others if we are not feeling well. The health care system also recommended getting the COVID-19 vaccine “because it is safe, highly effective and the way our communities will move beyond this pandemic.”

If you are grateful to the National Guard for doing its part to help the staff there, remember Guard members are doing it all over the state. The need is everywhere, and they are making a difference because they are willing to take on whatever fight awaits them when it comes to protecting the rest of us.

Elsewhere in Ohio, in Guernsey County, for instance, guard members were stationed at Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center in Cambridge, serving as support staff.

“We appreciate the efforts of Gov. DeWine to deploy Ohio National Guard members across Ohio to assist hospitals including Southeastern Med,” said Wendy Elliott, Guernsey Health System president and CEO, according to a report by The Daily Jeffersonian.

In acknowledging her staff has been feeling the strain of the present surge, Elliott said, “The support of the Ohio National Guard will provide a welcome relief, and we’re very grateful to accept this resource.”

We all owe the members of the Ohio National Guard and the health-care workers with whom they are fighting an enormous debt of gratitude.

Now let’s make sure we all are doing our part to stay safe and slow COVID-19’s spread.

editorial@vindy.com

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