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Kentucky hospitals relieved for National Guard help amid staffing shortage

A few days with extra help have made a big difference for hospital staff at some Kentucky hospitals.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The latest state data shows 2,426 people are hospitalized with coronavirus in Kentucky. In our area, "region 3," ICU capacity exceeds 95%.

At Baptist Health Louisville, a few beds are still available through their surge plan. 

"As far as our normal critical care beds, we are full," President Larry Gray explained. 

On top of reaching capacity, the hospital is one of many facing a dwindling workforce. That has impacted everything from meals to transportation.

"Some staff who had decided the pandemic had just become so heavy of a weight that they decided to look for jobs elsewhere," Gray said.

In a press conference Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear stated more than two-thirds of Kentucky hospitals are facing a critical staffing shortage.

Enter the National Guard - folks who respond to floods, hurricanes, and crises surrounding COVID-19.

The governor assigned more than 400 service members to hospitals across the country.

"Their energy and their desire to help their community have just been so refreshing," Baptist Health Hardin VP of Operations Steve White said. The hospital was assigned 15 National Guard Service Members and ten AmeriCorps NCCC members. 

They are doing more than just cleaning dishes, waxing floors, and serving meals - they're bringing relief to nurses and doctors who continue to see the death and devastation this virus can cause. 

"It tugs at you emotionally to see so much of that," White said.

RELATED: In their words: Louisville health care workers share struggles with unvaccinated

This relief is temporary; members are on orders for at least 31 days. Officials at Baptist Health Hardin will reassess their location after two weeks. 

Baptist Health Hardin says they're already hoping to extend the two-week assignment, while their hospital in Louisville is hoping to keep its 40 services members for the full month.

Gray said the hospital is still actively recruiting to address its staffing woes, but is grateful for the temporary help provided by the National Guard.

Contact reporter Tom Lally at TLally@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

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