Leadership at Ascension St. Vincent calls in National Guard to help hospital staff

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INDIANAPOLIS — A Hospital Crisis Response Team from the Indiana National Guard helping out doctors and nurses at Ascension St. Vincent 86th St. Campus.

“Coming together has just been a real pick me up and a shot in the arm for our team,” said Terry Metzger, System COO for Ascension St. Vincent Indiana.

Metzger said they found out about the team, applied and the National Guard sent a team all within the span of a few days.

“They are very appreciative to have the help,” said Lt. Samantha Hatfield, the officer in charge of the Hospital Crisis Response Team

Hatfield said four teams are deployed at hospitals across the state, with their first deployment coming on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

“They’ve come in very enthusiastic, jumping right in and helping in all areas that they are available to,” said Metzger.

Hatfield said the teams are made up of 15 guardsmen. Half of them are trained medics who can help doctors and nurses in a CNA role and the other half are support staff.

“Helping with food delivery, cleaning up patient rooms, common use areas and they have the ability to do secretarial duties,” Hatfield said.

Metzger said they made the decision knowing how exhausting the pandemic has been for staff.

“19 months of putting in extra hours, stressful times, and helping patients through some difficult times, it wears on the staff,” he said.

Metzger said they’ve been working to help staff in different ways throughout the pandemic, but extra workers help even more.

“We’ve been doing other work with our teams from bonuses to adjusting pay rates but really to have an extra set of hands in there too is a completely different way to give them some relief from the work they’re doing every day,” Metzger said.

Metzger said the guardsmen will mainly be helping in ICUs and, so far, the feedback from nurses and doctors has been really positive.

“Being able to get a fresh set of folks in to help with that, with their enthusiasm, is just so nice to have at this critical juncture,” Metzger said.

The National Guard team can stay at Ascension St. Vincent 86th St. campus for up to two weeks, Metzger said they’re going to enjoy every bit of it.

“Having a team come in from the outside is just very uplifting for us, we’d love to see the team stay on a little longer,” Metzger said.

It is important to note, Ascension St. Vincent told FOX 59 it is not making this move because of a lack of staff due to a COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Ascension employees are required to be vaccinated, but the deadline is not until Nov. 12.

CBS4 reached out to several other central Indiana hospitals to see if any others were planning on calling in the National Guard. Spokespeople for Eskenazi Health, IU Health, Johnson Memorial Hospital and Community Health Network all responded and said, at this time, they do not plan on calling in a team from the National Guard to help.

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