National Guard assisting Rogue Valley hospitals, testing sites

SOUTHERN OREGON, —The National Guard is helping out at southern Oregon hospitals Tuesday. 1200 Citizen Soldiers, are helping at 40 hospitals in the state, as ordered by Governor Kate Brown. Its mission is to help hospitals struggling through the Omicron surge.

The boots are on the ground at the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. The National Guard tells us it’s just happy to help, in whatever capacity it can. Major John Cascano is acting as a regional task force commander. His area includes the three Asante hospitals in Medford, Ashland, and Grants Pass, as well as Providence Medford Medical Center and Curry General Hospital.

“We know the strain that the hospital staff is under and looking to be able to provide any relief we can,” said Major Cascano.

He says his team was briefed on its mission Monday.

“We received an overview of their mission and scope they spent a lot of time talking to us about infection control and that our troops would be aware of the things they’d be encountering, ” said Major Cascano.

Asante told us Monday it will see around 130 National Guard members across its Jackson and Josephine County locations. We’re told around 20 will be at Rogue Regional in Medford, with another 10 helping out at Asante’s popular PCR drive-thru testing site in south Medford. There they’ll help with traffic control, and run supplies and equipment to help speed up the operation.

“This is our first day in the various roles we’re playing, we’re happy to jump in, we’ve got a full crew here to support the drive by testing sight,” said Major Cascano.

Over at Providence Medford Medical Center, 6 out of 11 Air National Guard members have already arrived. CEO Chris Pizzi, says the help couldn’t come at a better time, with patient volume increasing at its hospital and testing site.

“This support comes at a great time when we have caregivers that are going out with covid and having to quarantine, so these National Guard members are going to be able to help us in some of these non-clinical roles to fill some gaps, ” said Pizzi.

Tuesday the teams went through introductory training before taking on non-clinical roles in the hospital. The health system is expecting nine more Army National Guard members to arrive in the next two weeks, to bring them to a total of 20.

Providence tells us this is a relatively small group compared to the 75 who were deployed during the Delta surge, but they are happy to have the assistance.

“That will help significantly to offset the burden they are experiencing from the surge,” said Pizzi.

It’s unclear how long the national guard will be here but will stay as the need remains.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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