National Guard group prepares for last day at Deaconess Hospital

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WARRICK COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) – After nearly a month in the Tri-State, members of the National Guard are preparing for their last day assisting at Deaconess Hospital on Wednesday. In the midst of staffing shortages nearly everywhere, Deaconess Gateway and Midtown have been using the help from these service members to alleviate the overworked hospital staff.

In early December, 12 National Guard specialists were deployed to two Deaconess locations in Evansville and Warrick County.

“It’s been really important to us,” said Jennifer Chiusano of Deaconess. “It’s been such a gift, because I think all hospitals right now are short staffed, if you will, to a certain degree. Any help is just wonderful help for us. So we really appreciate them.”

Their duties have varied – from cleaning and flipping ICU rooms, to assisting in drawing blood.

“We’ve been helping out with the odd jobs,” said specialist Alec Hooker. “Like cleaning the biohazard rooms that don’t get cleaned or cleaning the back area of the kitchen that need to be cleaned but they don’t have time to clean because they’re trying to get patients their food.”

Specialist McKenzie Wilson said she has been working with the social work unit.

“I’ve had the opportunity to get a lot of experience working with people in everyday settings – what social work is – so I really liked it,” she said.

These specialists said they experienced the everyday chaos that ensues in a hospital setting and how dedicated the staff has been.

“You just see people in there come in and come out” said specialist Noah Hill. “It’s constantly packed. But the nurses do great jobs at what they do. The techs and the doctors there. They’re pretty good about seeing people even though they might have a full load”

“It’s concerning to see how hard they have to work, but it also makes me glad to be here to help them out,” added Hooker. “Giving the helping hand whatever I can do.”

Chuisano says a positive has come out of a very dark time for healthcare workers.

“A little silver lining of COVID has been that people have gotten a lot of experience everywhere,” she said. “Not just with the national guard, but with students. We’ve never had this happen before.”

Some of the National Guard members have already worked several different stints at other hospitals and could head to another location when their time ends in here.

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