National Guard Debunks Concerns Over Medical Staff Shortages

Some were concerned that deploying National Guard units would take health professionals away from civilian facilities that needed them.

National Guard Debunks Concerns Over Medical Staff Shortages

Governors across the country are activating the National Guard, including Pennsylvania, where at least 80 volunteers are conducting coronavirus testing.

"So there's been a lot of limitations in terms of the ability of medical facilities so far being able to test for the coronavirus, both in terms of availability of testing, and the proper personal protective equipment to make sure that the health care personnel are not exposed," one guard member said.  

"Everyone's concerned that that could, at a certain level, have a significant negative impact. So I'm hoping that first of all that we stay healthy, but we have some plans in place in terms of backup systems and rotations of providers like at my hospital," Lt. Col. Karolyn Teufel said.  

So far, at least 20 health care professionals from across Washington, D.C., have volunteered. Lt. Col. Teufel is one of them. 

Not only does she work as a doctor at a hospital in Washington, she's also a medic for the Air National Guard.

"The commander and that person will send down a request for information amongst all the squadrons, all the commanders, and find out who's available, what sort of skill sets they have, what kind of turnaround time can they be available,"  Teufel said. 

Newsy spoke to the C.C. Air National Guard Wing Commander Col. Stephanie Novis. She told us that as many clinics close, doctors and nurses are being relieved from their duties, which opens up opportunities for them to volunteer with the Guard. 

"Being in the military means we all have that go bag. We do. It's ready to go. We have a family care plan that our our team makes us review on a periodic basis. Our financials, our wills, who's going to pay the bills, who's going to take care of the children, the pets, things like that," Teufel said.

Once activated, Teufel will help advise and coordinate personnel and supplies.

"If they do indeed want to deploy us, they generally send down what's called a warning order. And that gives us a heads-up, 'standby to standby'. Get your bags together, talk to your family. And then the actual mobilization orders follow sometimes within 24-72 hours after that," Teufel said. 

When I asked if she's concerned about being even more exposed to the coronavirus, this is what she had to say:

"Sure, everyone's concerned, right? I think the whole world is. ... But in my world, we will be exposed in a different way when you're providing care, and you know that some of the patients are going to have it. ... All the PCP will follow all the guidelines, so we'll do our best," Teufel said.