National Guard, AmeriCorps begin hospital work

From left, Assistant Vice President of Operations Steve White speaks with National Guard member Lt. Bradley Domers, and AmeriCorps members Caitlyn Kuecher, Ali Blasi and Molly Kalthoff about their involvement at Baptist Health Hardin.

Baptist Health Hardin has begun training and utilizing more than 20 National Guard and AmeriCorps personnel members to aid in the hospital’s efforts during the pandemic.

Guard members arrived Monday where they conducted training and paperwork, and began work on Tuesday. AmeriCorps members were training on Tuesday, and were added to help after Assistant Vice President of Operations Steve White applied to the organization for assistance.

White said at a Tuesday news conference that the reason for the inclusion and utilization of the extra personnel is to allow more breathing room for the hospital staff to rest and also focus on their primary duties.

“It’s really getting tougher,” White said in regards to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has had on hospitals.

White said these staff members will help in “ancillary and support areas” such as sanitizing public areas, preparing meals and stocking supplies. He said guard members also are doing groundskeeping to help keep the outside of the hospital clean and orderly.

He said on Tuesday that the hospital had more than 100 COVID-19 patients. Typically, he said they have around 20 critical care beds, but due to more supplies being provided by the state, they now have more than 40 beds.

Last Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that National Guard members would be dispersed to various hospitals around the state.

When asked about the recent protests regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates, White said that decision didn’t contribute to the need for the Guard and AmeriCorps. He also said that the hospital is not “under staffed,” but the staff there needs more support.

Lt. Bradley Domers of the National Guard said the goal of the organization being there is to help the hospital in any way possible to make sure health care is running smoothly.

“Basically make sure that they do the job that they need to do,” Domers said.

Caitlyn Kuecher, an AmeriCorps member, said during the news conference that the AmeriCorps is supportive of each other, and that this is the second location they’ve work at as a group.

“As a group, it really is to make sure we can help in any way possible,” Kuecher said.

White said both groups currently are scheduled to work at the hospital for the next few weeks, but said they are looking to extend that. There are 15 Guard members and about 10 AmeriCorps members working at Baptist Health Hardin.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1414 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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