Mid-South hospital receives federal staffing help amid ongoing pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Medical workers struggling to keep up with a surge in COVID-19 cases are getting extra help from the federal government.

Fifteen members from the National Disaster Medical System are at Baptist Memorial Hospital to help with the virus response.

They’re a network of federal employees under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The team is made up of health and planning professionals trained to step in after a natural or manmade disaster, including mass casualties or loss of healthcare infrastructure.

Some personnel includes a physician, advanced healthcare practitioners, nurses, clinical specialists, and more.

Health leaders at Baptist Hospital said they desperately needed extra staff in the emergency room to keep up with the increase in COVID-19 cases.

“We’ve been in the trenches for over a year and a half with this, so they are coming in to support us,” said the Director of the Emergency Department, Doris Price.

Administrative support specialists will team with local staff to provide short-term support. Their goal is to give support where it’s needed.

“Whether it’s in the front as the triage as the volume comes in or if it’s in the back to help some of the nurses with some of the tasks,” said Price.

Gabe Debay is a paramedic with the disaster medical assistance team who is working at Baptist Hospital.

“When the call comes up, we immediately deploy to help people. So for us, being on the team and working with the nurses, I mean last night was super fulfilling for us,” said Debay.

Debay said the task force plans on staying for two weeks doing everything they can to help patients and the staff at Baptist Hospital.

There is a sense of camaraderie and a chance to form lifelong friendships during a difficult time.

“Just getting out there really helping people and doing what we can do to make a difference is wonderful. This is our way to give back,” said Debay.

“We’ve got some lifelong friends made here, but they have also given us a break in order to help these patients in the community,” said Chief Nursing Officer Catherine Luchsinger.

The task force will help Baptist Hospital until October 5.