The California Nationwide Guard has dispatched medical groups to a few beleaguered hospitals in Northern California and the Central Valley, the place exhausted healthcare staff are weathering one other surge of COVID-19 instances and deaths.
Groups of 16 individuals have been deployed to help healthcare staffs at Memorial Hospital and Mercy Hospital Southwest in Bakersfield and Mercy Medical Heart Redding, mentioned Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma, a California Nationwide Guard spokesman.
One other Bakersfield hospital, Adventist Well being, has requested assist from the Nationwide Guard, and a 14-person workforce is anticipated to reach Saturday, mentioned Daniel Wolcott, president of Adventist Well being Kern County.
“We nonetheless want extra nursing and medical assist,” he added.
The deployments come as rural areas of Northern and Central California face their most intense COVID-19 surge but. The inhabitants’s vaccination fee lags far behind that of the remainder of the state, regardless of extremely efficient and free vaccines being out there for months. Native well being officers have battled widespread mistrust of the vaccines, skepticism in regards to the coronavirus and anger over masks mandates and lockdowns.
The requires assist come as some California hospitals put together to sever ties with staff who’ve refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine and didn’t obtain legitimate medical or non secular exemptions. At the least one short-staffed Central Valley hospital has mentioned it authorized a comparatively excessive fee of spiritual exemptions to be able to keep away from an exodus of workers.
Wolcott mentioned Adventist has been experiencing ongoing workers shortages, and California’s order that every one well being staff be vaccinated by Sept. 30 was not a key issue within the want for Nationwide Guard help. He mentioned 90% of the hospital’s full- and part-time staff are vaccinated, and the rest have qualifying exemptions.
“It’s extra as a result of the truth that there’s such a scarcity of nurses nationwide,” Wolcott mentioned. “We’ve had so many nurses leaving to journey to locations like Florida, Louisiana and Texas.”
One other Central Valley hospital, Kaweah Well being Medical Heart in Visalia, is paying $250 to $300 per hour for journey nurses to handle staffing shortfalls, chief government Gary Herbst informed The Instances this week.
The pandemic has “exacerbated a staffing scarcity that’s impacting healthcare suppliers throughout the state, previous to the state’s vaccine requirement,” mentioned Chad Burns, a spokesman for Dignity Well being, which runs Memorial and Mercy Southwest in Bakersfield and Mercy in Redding. One other Dignity spokesperson, Christine McMurry, informed the Document Searchlight that the Fawn fireplace, which compelled some workers members to evacuate, had left the Redding hospital shorthanded.
Mercy made its first request for added workers Aug. 24 and a second, which McMurry described as a “plea for assist,” Sept. 24. She mentioned the Nationwide Guard workforce is anticipated to remain for 2 weeks.
The Nationwide Guard helps within the emergency division and in different areas of the hospitals as wanted, the corporate mentioned.
Mercy reported a mean of 94% occupancy over the past seven days, the fullest the hospital has been for the reason that pandemic began, in line with The Instances’ COVID-19 tracker. About 38.7% of Shasta County residents are totally vaccinated, in contrast with 60.1% statewide.
Bakersfield Memorial reported a 96% occupancy over the past seven days. About 43.2% of Kern County residents are totally vaccinated.
California Nationwide Guard groups have been despatched to assist overwhelmed hospitals throughout the state at a number of instances in the course of the pandemic. In December 2020, the Nationwide Guard had groups in place in 13 hospitals from Los Angeles to Imperial County. Within the early days of the state’s large vaccine distribution drive, troopers helped administer pictures at two federally operated websites in Los Angeles and the Bay Space.
Nationwide Guard groups had been deployed final month in hospitals in Indiana, Georgia, Oregon and elsewhere throughout the nation.
Instances workers author Hailey Branson-Potts contributed to this report.
This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Instances.