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Kentucky National Guard deployed to regional hospitals

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:32 PM EDT
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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - Surging COVID cases and hospitalizations are stretching the healthcare workforce thin. On Tuesday, help began to arrive at high-risk hospitals in southern and Eastern Kentucky.

“Our staff are working a lot of hours,” said Teresa Cobb, the Executive Director of Nursing and Clinical Services at Baptist Health Hospital in Corbin. “A lot of overtime hours trying to meet all the needs and the demands of patient care.”

A Kentucky National Guard deployment that began on Tuesday aims to help.

“It has taken some of the workload off of them knowing they’re there, knowing that they’re delivering supplies,” said Cobb.

15 National Guardsmen deployed to Baptist Health Corbin but are part of a broader effort.

In total 310 guardsmen were sent to hospitals across the commonwealth.

For 16-year veteran, Captain Tyler Shields, this deployment is special.

“The guard is a unique organization,” said Shields. “It’s made up of teachers, doctors, lawyers, pastors, students. So, it’s a unique privilege when we actually get to serve our own community and give back.”

Despite previous experience serving overseas, different challenges arise with this job. Especially coming from just down the road in Barbourville.

“You may see people that you know, but at the same time if you’re there in this role maybe you provide a familiar face and just some support and encouragement to the community in that way,” said Shields.

This is the second deployment of the Kentucky National Guard during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to last around one month.

In total, more than 400 Soldiers and Airmen have been mobilized during the pandemic to provide support to Kentucky hospitals.

In Eastern Kentucky, they have been deployed to hospitals in Manchester, London, Hazard, Prestonsburg, Middlesboro, Harlan, Lake Cumberland and Jackson.

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