Tennessee National Guard provides help with staffing shortage in Memphis hospitals

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee National Guard is in the city helping with what Memphis area hospital emergency directors call dangerous, critical levels of patients in the ER.

Tennessee National Guard members have arrived due to a staffing shortage. A spokesperson tells WREG guard personnel arrived at Baptist Memorial Friday to help in the emergency department.

Eventually 20 members will be there to help but not everyone has arrived. It’s unclear how long they will stay.

Their arrival comes after area hospital emergency directors laid out what they call a current crisis earlier this week, saying emergency departments are operating dangerously over capacity. The doctors say the situation is due to a lack of skilled personnel, like nurses and techs.

While the hospitals say they’re doing what they can, they have to be able to keep up with a surge. City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen says there’s a hospital coalition working with people in the city and county who coordinate the requests for help from the Tennessee National Guard.

“We do know there are a limited number of individuals who can come and help so they are putting in pretty restrictive requirements about the size of the hospital, what the demands are,” McGowen said.

A spokesperson from the state says Methodist Le Bonheur has also asked for help, and their request is being evaluated.

Methodist Le Bonheur sent WREG a statement Friday, saying, “We have made a request for TN National Guard assistance. We were fortunate to have their support previously and would welcome any assistance going forward. Our Methodist Olive Branch Hospital also has made a request for additional resources.”

Earlier this week, a spokesperson with the state told WREG information on criteria and how to submit a request was sent Monday.

“Also, what they have done in the hospital and what limits they have,” McGowen said. “So the response will be in proportion to the utilization of the rooms both ICU and acute care and the size of the facility so every system may expect to get a slightly different level of package of support.”

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