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Medics with the Air Force lend helping hand to workers at UMMC

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It’s no secret there’s a nursing shortage here in Mississippi during the latest COVID-19 spike.

Right now, UMMC has 131 confirmed or suspected patients with COVID-19. Of those patients, 108 are adults and 23 are children. More than 68 percent of those are not vaccinated.

UMMC, just like other healthcare facilities in the state, are seeking federal help.

As a result, the Department of Defense is now deploying more than a dozen federal workers to UMMC.

In all, 20 members of the Unites States Air Force will have boots on the ground in the Capital City lending a helping hand.

“We have 14 nurses, four medical doctors, and two respiratory technicians,” said Lt. Col. Franklin Porcil, Commander of Medical Response Team out of the 59th Airbase Wing, Joint Base San Antonio. “To be honest with you, we have a highly skilled team.”

A majority of the members are being deployed from San Antonio, Texas, and will work indoors with hospital workers to treat both COIVD and non-COIVD patients.

“They’re indoors, inside working in our emergency department, in our medical surgical floor, working right alongside our clinical staff,” said Dr. Jonathan Wilson, Chief Administrative Officer at UMMC.

Wilson says this wave of federal workers will be different from the group who came in to work at the field hospital.

”This team from the Department of Defense came in to relieve the Federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team that the U.S. Health and Human Services sent,” Wilson explained. “Instead of using them in the parking garage, we’re using them inside the hospital because the facility in the parking garage is really being ramped up for monoclonal antibody therapy.”

As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly all across the state, workers at UMMC said this help is coming at the perfect time.

”It’s immensely helpful,” said Wilson. “Our staff, our clinical staff, are facing challenges that are really unprecedented in this pandemic. High degree of stress, high degree of burnout. It’s really a hard spot for a lot of our clinical staff right, and these reinforcements are really needed.”

”Most of our folks have been deployed across the globe, so coming here and being able to work within the confines of the state of Mississippi, and help our fellow Americans, is truly an honor and we’re so happy, so blessed, to be a part of this undertaking,” Porcil expressed.

Wilson said the military members will work at the hospital for up to 30 days. Once those 30 days are up, they’ll be re-evaluated to see if an extension is needed to keep them around longer.

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