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We asked for help, and it arrived

Federal, state and local agencies have stepped into to provide much-needed staffing support.

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Contract nurses went through orientation last week.

As the delta variant spread throughout our community and pushed our hospitals beyond their resources, Asante leaders called out for help.

In August, that help began to arrive.

Local, state and national agencies are providing staffing support, which allows us to expand our capacity not only to care for COVID patients, but others with serious conditions needing treatment and a hospital bed.

The Oregon Health Authority has funded a “strike team” of 65 critical care, 35 med/surg nurses, 15 respiratory therapists and nine paramedics, who are being distributed throughout our system based on staffing needs.

These valued professionals, contracted through Jogan Health Solutions, will serve as a bridge for eight weeks until medium-term temporary staff arrives through AMN Healthcare Staffing. OHA is also funding the longer-term AMN contract staff, and we so appreciate the state’s responsiveness to this crisis.

National Guardsman Owen Grafton, PFC, is helping as a screener. In thanks, and celebration of his birthday, employees brought him cookies.

In August, the state sent Asante 150 Oregon National Guard soldiers to serve in nonclinical roles, which frees up our employed staff for other critical functions. These men and women are helping to man the COVID-19 hotline; performing screening duties; supporting Environmental Services; couriering test specimens from collection sites to the lab; delivering meals; serving as patient safety monitors; controlling traffic and many other needed support services. We can’t thank them enough for their dedication to their country and our community.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration, or FEMA, has provided paramedics for ARRMC and ATRMC to serve as vital team members in our Emergency Departments.

Our community has also stepped up. Local nursing staff (disaster relief RNs) — retired nurses, nurses working in outpatient roles and nurse practitioners — are coming back into our hospital to help support our teams on four-week intervals.

Our own Asante nurses have also been going above and beyond to support our patients and teams. Perioperative nurses are regularly working in inpatient units. Medical surgical nurses are helping critical care. Many are working in new environments as we open new units. These are examples of teamwork at its finest.

All this support is critical to serve our community as the pandemic reaches its peak and beyond. A model by OHSU calculated specifically for Asante estimates that our hospitals could need as many as 250 beds at the peak of the surge in early September.

These people have provided a literal lifeline for our patients, and much-needed relief for our overburdened staff. We thank them and the Asante employees who have gone above and beyond these past several weeks to care for our community. Please know how deeply we appreciate your sacrifice.

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