National Guard receives briefing from Providence and Asante in Medford, ready for ‘important mission’

MEDFORD, Ore — The Oregon Army National Guard are moving in to help hospitals throughout Jackson and Josephine counties this weekend.

Sectional leaders received a rundown from Providence and Asante officials Friday afternoon about their role. The leaders will go over the game-plan with their soldiers, in preparation for their first day Saturday.

One of the National Guard members said its an unusual role for them, but are ready for the challenge.

We all knew that this was an important mission and the support that we’re giving out to the hospitals is greatly needed,” 1st Sgt. Evan Garner told NBC5. “It’s unique for us so far because everything that we usually do are floods, snow, firefighting. That’s the typical National Guard mission that we’ve had over the years.”  

RELATED: Oregon National Guard prepares to help overwhelmed Rogue Valley hospitals Friday

According to Asante, the guards were deployed as nonclinical and will be helping with staffing needs in the hospitals, contact center, and urgent care locations. They will be split between the facilities in Jackson and Josephine counties, assisting in areas such as nutrition services, materials management, environmental services, security, and the covid hotline.

The selected areas are critically understaffed.

“We’ve been really struggling to continue to take care of our community during all of this,” Jackie DeSilva, Emergency Preparedness Manager with Asante, said. “We’re so thankful that they’re here.” 

Asante announced new visitor restrictions Friday amid the surge in hospitalizations. Visitors are barred from entering and patients in the emergency department are allowed one guest. 

“The situation in the hospitals is quite dire, I wont lie its very stressful,” DeSilva said. “Our hearts break every single day seeing our frontline staff that are out there doing the best they can. Working long hours, doing the best they can to help our community.” 

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