Biden administration to send extra medical support to University Hospital
Starting next week, 1,000 military medical personnel will begin arriving to help mitigate staffing crunches at hospitals across the country. University Hospital in Newark will be among the destinations.
President Joe Biden is highlighting the federal government's efforts to use “surge” military medical personnel to help overwhelmed medical facilities withstand the spike in coronavirus cases and staff shortages due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Dr. Shereef Elnahal, University Hospital president and CEO, says his staff is tired and exhausted. Elnahal calls this much-needed relief.
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“There are times in the emergency room where I've had to send my flight paramedic nurses to assist because their critical load is so overwhelming,” says Elnahal.
The Omicron surge in recent weeks hasn't just sent patients for treatment at University Hospital - it has also sidelined a critical amount of nurses and doctors fighting their own illness.
“It's approaching 10% of our overall staff, but also it is disproportionately people who are the bedside people who patients need when they have to come into the hospital so that's where it gets really difficult,” says Elnahal.
In the coming days, the Biden administration will send 23 uniformed medical support staff to Newark for 30 days, taking some of the pressure off the overworked staff.
“We were in the situation in the spring of 2020 where everybody was clapping at the same time,” says Elnahal. “Every day the police firefighters coming in and honking for them. That's not happening as much anymore, so I think that this gesture even if it's just having somebody in uniform next to them saying I'm here to help. I can't tell you what that's going to mean for us."
Elnahal says roughly half of the patients are at the hospital for COVID-19. He also says we could be reaching a peak in the wave, but a staffing shortage affects every patient, regardless of what sent them there for care.
AP wire copy contributed to this report.