Kentucky National Guard members soon will be at Baptist Health Hardin in Elizabethtown aiding in the fight against COVID-19.

The hospital is one of 21 across the state added to the list of assistance from Guard members, who will aid the strained hospitals by assisting with nonclinical functions to allow hospital staff to focus on patient care.

As of Friday afternoon, Assistant Vice President of Operations Steve White said they still were awaiting details on when help will arrive and what roles they will serve, he said. Gov. Andy Beshear’s announcement Thursday indicated the troops would be dispersed as soon as Monday.

“COVID-19 has placed great demands on our resources at Baptist Health Hardin, but we have planned accordingly to meet those demands so that we can take care of our patients,” White said. “Still, it remains a challenging time with numbers of very sick patients in need of care increasing almost daily.”

According to White, most of these patients and the sickest of these patients are unvaccinated. As of Friday, Baptist Health Hardin reported 102 inpatient COVID-19 cases. Of those, 13 were vaccinated while 89 had not taken a COVID vaccine.

“Our hospital is full, but we will continue to care for anyone seeking care. Unfortunately, longer wait times are to be expected given the volume of patients we are treating each day. It cannot be stated enough how critical it is for everyone to do their part — washing hands and social distancing, but most importantly masking and getting vaccinated,” he said.

White said the support Baptist Health Hardin has received from the state has been timely and is greatly appreciated.

“We have already received 25 beds with mattresses which will allow us to take care of more patients during this challenging time. Our staff has worked tirelessly during this pandemic,” he said. “We are grateful for the governor’s assistance in committing the National Guard to provide support that is needed.”

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, more than 100 Guard members were already assisting at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard, The Medical Center at Bowling Green and Pikeville Medical Center.

This latest move by Beshear made available 310 additional Guard members.

“I believe this is the largest deployment of the Guard in this crisis health care situation in our history. Every time we’ve asked, they’ve stepped up and served us so proudly,” Beshear said in a statement.

Brig. Gen. Bryan Howay, director of the joint staff of the Kentucky National Guard, in the release said that in coordination with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, more than 400 soldiers and airmen now have been mobilized to help provide logistical and administrative support to 25 Kentucky hospitals.

“Supporting this critical mission impacts our service members as well since we’re part of the same communities we’re assisting,” Howay said in the release. “While our mission is temporary, it serves to highlight the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and most importantly, getting vaccinated.”

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com

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