Memphis, Collierville hospitals happy to have help from National Guard


COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee National Guard members started arriving last week to help Memphis-area hospitals including Baptist and Methodist with a staffing crisis.

Emergency department heads had warned they’re seeing so many people, and without the proper personnel to care for them, they could have to start triaging patients.

Baptist Memorial-Collierville is one of the places getting help from the Guard. Staff there said the help couldn’t come soon enough.

“I was just thrilled, I was elated. We need all the help we can get these days,” said Patrick MacDonnchadh, ER manager at the hospital. “The ICUs are full and as younger and more people are getting sick that possibly could be avoided, it has put a strain on resources.”

He said at noon the inpatient census was 67, and 25 of those people were COVID-positive. Staff does their best but with the Guard here, they can extend their reach of timely care.

Clarrissa Richardson, an officer in charge with the Tennessee National Guard, said 68 National Guard members are at the hospitals, working 12-hour shifts. Others assisting the Memphis Fire Department and at the Pipkin Building giving vaccines. 

“We have both medics and administrative people helping out, and the medics are like EMTS so they can draw blood, IVs, transport patients and we just help out wherever the hospital needs us,” Richardson said. “The guard is here for Tennessee for any kind of disaster or pandemic that occurs. We’re here to support Tennessee.”

Richardson says with the support comes a sense of pride, dealing with a grateful patients.

“They thank you for your service and so the patients are more than happy that we’re here and that we’re helping out,” she said. “That just makes me swell up on the inside to say, ‘Hey I’m making a difference.”

Richardson says they’ll be here as long they are needed.

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