Michigan has a higher rate of hospitalizations for COVID patients than any other state, causing FEMA to request assistance from the Department of Defense.
One hospital in Dearborn, Michigan, now has a team of 23 active-duty service members helping hospital staff. The soldiers at Beaumont Hospital are one of three teams working across the state battling its fourth COVID surge.
The hospital's chief nursing officer, Mary Ellen Kochis-Rouillard, said they are glad to have the extra help, especially after losing many nurses to retirement. She said they have more than 600 COVID patients, of which 22% are vaccinated.
"I'd like to say that I'm very proud of the team here at Beaumont Dearborn, and that includes our physicians, our nurses and our ancillary staff, but they are tired, they have been through a lot, this is the fourth surge," Kochis-Rouillard said. "So bringing the Department of Defense in with us helps give us a fresh perspective, and it gives us a fresh team member to work with and really help the patients that are coming in on our med surge units, our critical care and our ER."
The 20 Army medics have different specialties, and after hitting the ground earlier last week, they were able to start helping patients after around two days of training, which matters when time isn't on many of the patients' sides.
"It's really been amazing working with the Department of Defense," Kochis-Rouillard said. "They are here, and then they're on the units and seeing them intermingle with the staff. Sometimes it's getting to learn our equipment a little faster, as well as our documentation system, but our team members have told me they have caught on so quickly."
The Army medics are scheduled to be there for 30 days, but they say they can extend if the hospital requests it.
As of Sunday, nearly 4,500 people are in hospitals like Beaumont seeking COVID treatment. With cases of the new Omicron variant popping up across the country, time will tell if it will also start popping up in Michigan and its already-taxed hospital system.