Military doctors, nurses set to arrive next week in NY, NJ to help with omicron surge

ByChantee Lans, Eyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, January 14, 2022
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Military doctors and nurses will soon enter the doors at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn and University Hospital in Newark to help with staffing shortages. Jim Dolan has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- President Joe Biden announced plans Thursday to send military medical teams to the New York and New Jersey area to help with the omicron surge.

The president said he told the Defense Department to prepare 1,000 military doctors and nurses for assignments at hospitals around the country.

White House officials say 3,000 military medical workers have been deployed across the country since July 1. The military deployment starts next week.

Biden also said the government will be making high-quality face masks available to the public for free starting next week.

And a government website will come online within the next few days allowing people to order free at-home COVID rapid tests.

"I know we're all frustrated as we enter this new year," said Biden. But he repeated that it's "a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

ALSO READ | CDC says it will update mask 'information' amid COVID surge

New York is one of six states that will receive additional military medical aid.

New Jersey is another: medical personnel will be deployed to University Hospital in Newark.

Hospitals in Rhode Island, Ohio Michigan, and New Mexico will also receive help.

Military doctors and nurses being deployed to city hospitals will arrive in Coney Island on January 24 and in North Central Bronx on January 28.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced New York state will also receive additional resources as early as next Monday.

Thirty National Ambulance teams will move to support upstate counties in need of help transporting patients.

A new Disaster Medical Assistance and Military Medicine team of 19 medical professionals will replace the existing DMAT at SUNY Upstate on January 26.

"I want to thank President Biden for honoring our request, and deploying much-needed medical teams to New York State to help us fight the winter surge," said Hochul. "These critical resources will build on our ongoing winter surge plan efforts to assist our overstressed hospitals so they can maintain patient care, and relieve some of our exhausted medical staff and emergency responders."

Hochul reiterated the need for additional medical staff in upstate regions like the Finger Lakes where covid cases have increased.

However, some believe additional personnel should be distributed to other hospitals in the city, like the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

Nurses working at the medical center say staffing is stretched thin causing delays throughout the hospital, including the ER where 40 patients waited for beds this week.

"You cannot ask an ER nurse to care for 20 patients," said Nancy Hogans from the NY State Nursing Association. "I don't care how great a nurse you are, you are not going to be able to do it."

ALSO READ | Top floor resident saves 3-year-old girl from Bronx high rise fire, reunites her with mother

Members of the nurses association gathered outside of Jacobi Thursday to demand assistance.

They also say patients who test positive are not properly isolated raising the risk of infection for others.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson sided with the nurses this afternoon and requested their demands for aid be met.

"We stand here declaring in unison with you this state of emergency," said Gibson. "This is a call to action, a call to attention."

The an official from NYC Health and Hospital Coney Island thanked the president and governor for the additional aid and said they're doing everything they can to support their nursing staff.

"Through this fourth wave we have activated many proven strategies that served us well during the first surge to help support our staff, especially our nurses," said a health system media spokesperson. "We have added hundreds of nurses and are adding hundreds more in the days ahead, we are transferring patients across our hospitals to balance the demand, and we are doing all we can to support the physical and emotional wellness of our front-line teams so we can continue to deliver on our mission to care for all New Yorkers, no matter what."

However, about 25% of city hospital employees are sick according to officials, yet they insist the system remains stable.

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