OAHHS Hospital Voice Fall/Winter 2021-22

16 “Every four hours we were assessing: do we have enough beds to do the next round of surgeries? OK— we’re good,” La Rochelle explained. “The next four hours: do we have enough beds and people to do the next set of surgeries? People were still getting sick with other things.” Enter the National Guard, which Gov. Brown initially called up for hospital duty in mid-August. What began as a mission to combat the summer’s Delta surge has recently been extended, for several hundred Guard members, to the end of 2021. From the start, the Guard’s orders have essentially been to do just about whatever non-clinical jobs needed to be done. Maj. Gen. Michael Stencel, the Oregon National Guard Adjutant General, speaking to hospital mission members of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team on September 2, at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, said the soldiers should simply tell any hospital staffers they met, “I’m with the National Guard, and I’m here to help. You tell me what you need me to do, whether it’s sweeping the floor, folding sheets—we need to do everything we can to free them up to do the technical aspects of their job.” This meant picking up the kind of slack that healthcare professionals, often nurses, were having to do, which cut into their time to do the most important parts of their jobs, namely, caring for patients— a persistent pandemic frustration. “Doctors and nurses want to do the very best we can for our patients,” said Salem’s Nester Wolfe, who is herself a longtime registered nurse. “It just feels really bad when you can’t do things that you would normally do for a sick patient and being able to have those extra hands just made a huge difference.” Those National Guard hands could be found doing a variety of jobs, and the fact that they were being done in so many hospitals, in so many departments, made this Reassurance mission something » A magazine for and about Oregon Community Hospitals.