The Tennessee Guard is now pitching in at 13 hospitals that requested staffing assistance, including the largest hospitals in the state.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville is included in a list of six medical centers who have started receiving help since Monday. Also leaning on the guard are the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville and Regional One Health Medical Center in Memphis.
The two other large Memphis systems — Baptist and Methodist Le Bonheur — were announced last week. And Ballad Health in northeast Tennessee is using 20 guardsmen.
In total, 155 soldiers have deployed to Tennessee hospitals. They represent military medics and non-clinical troops, but they’re generally not being asked to take on clinical roles. Instead, the idea is for troops to take on administrative tasks and free up nurses to work more closely with patients. Staffing has been the primary limiting factor to hospital capacity in Tennessee.
Tennessee hospitals are on track to surpass the record set during the winter surge in the next day or two, with nearly 3,000 COVID positive patients being treated as of Thursday. Some of these hospitals are beginning to expand their ICUs where nearly half of patients have COVID. Nearly all COVID patients in ICUs were not vaccinated.
Over the winter, the Tennessee Guard was authorized by the governor to work inside hospitals, as they are now, but only a handful requested the help.