Health Care

National Guard helps keep hospital clean

Reader contributed photo of National Guardsman cleaning at UVMMC

By Guy Page

The Vermont National Guard is helping the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) keep public spaces clean during the hospital’s Covid-related staffing emergency. 

The hospital announced a staffing emergency earlier this month. Due to workers calling out sick and other Covid-related reasons, the hospital is short-staffed. According to today’s federal Health & Human Services hospital dashboard, 386 of 516 total inpatient beds are occupied – meaning 25% are available. 51 of 75 total ICU beds are occupied – meaning 32% are available. 

Yesterday Vermont Daily Chronicle received the above photo of a man in military uniform assisting with cleaning. In response to our inquiry, UVMMC spokesperson Neal Goswami said:

“The National Guard will be assisting the Environmental Services [EVS] Department over the next several weeks. They will primarily be helping in public spaces such as waiting rooms and also to help in the disinfecting of stretchers. Guard members are being provided training and appropriate PPE for the task from our EVS leadership. We appreciate this partnership with the State of Vermont while hospitals statewide report staffing shortages.”

The number of University of Vermont Medical Center staff out of work due to Omicron has doubled last week, forcing temporary emergency staffing measures, Chief Nursing Officer Peg Gagne said in Tuesday, Jan. 11 memo to all UVMMC nurses.

“The Omicron variant is sweeping through our communities and our care teams,” the memo says. “The number of UVM Medical Center staff out of work due to Covid has doubled in the last week, and current projections indicate that these numbers will continue to grow.”

The illness-related shortage is occurring as patient volume is growing.

“At the same time, our emergency and inpatient volumes are high as we see increasing numbers of Covid patients throughout the patient population.”

The “emergency staffing situation” led Gagne and other UVMMC leaders – after discussion with the nursing union – to impose the following changes:

Leaders deployed to clinical/support roles

Flexing of staff assignments to areas of highest need

Circulators and charge nurses assigned to areas of highest need

Staff, beginning with traveler” nurses, will be deployed “voluntarily/involuntarily” to areas of highest need.

3 replies »

  1. An interesting conundrum government has forced us all in to. Unable and unwilling to back away
    from the narrative,The State of Vermont (taxpayers), UVMMC (insurers and taxpayers) is paying 2-3 times the normal wage for Nursing staff and who knows what else. Meanwhile, The Vermont Guard must assist to replace those sick with SARS-CoV-2 and those “unvaxxed” that were summarily dismissed from their jobs.
    When the dust settles from this government- mandated orgy of spending foolishness, the state is in deep financial trouble.

    • When I trained to be a Combat Infantryman, room and hallway cleaning were not an essential part of the job. Still, the Vermont National Guard will do an outstanding job, because that’s the way they operate, and the State of Vermont should thank them accordingly. If any of our legislators are stumbling around trying to figure out a way to thank them (and that would be most of them), try passing the legislation that you’ve been avoiding for years, that would eliminate state taxes on Military pay and retirement benefits. Or maybe consider volunteering to do the clean-up yourself next time?…

  2. And meanwhile in the Vermont Legislature, demoprogs are pushing to enhance the existing unemployment insurance payouts. People need to realize that when the National Guard is called up to do jobs in the private sector, they are taking leave from their own regular jobs, creating more labor problems. Regardless, thanks for your service, men and women of the Guard!

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