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WVNG aims to be even more of a helping hand in hospitals as the pandemic continues

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Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 7:32 PM EST
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KINGWOOD, W.Va (WDTV) - The pandemic showed us the staff shortage within hospitals as many nurses have continued to work long hours and multiple shifts.

This however is old news to the West Virginia National Guard.

“As a nurse myself, I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years, I know how staffing works,” Lt. Col. John Snedegar, the medical training officer said. “A lot of the nursing population is getting older and a lot of nurses are retiring, and we knew there was going to be a shortage a long time ago, but the pandemic has sort of increased the pace of retirements for some of the older and experienced nurses,” he said.

Around 1,700 nurses in the state in the last year chose not to renew their license or relocated to another state, according to state officials. Prior to covid, that number was never seen in a year alone.

Which is why over 150 soldiers and airmen from the guard are taking part in accelerated medical and hospital support training in Kingwood to help with things like helping a nurse move or supervise a patient. This training comes as covid cases continue to increase in the state and hospitals are feeling the effects again.

“Things that we can do that are non-patient care, that can free up nurses and nursing assistants to let them be more effective and efficient with what they need to do to help patients within the hospital; we’re here to supply a supporting role,” Brig. Gen. Gene Holt, the joint task force covid response commander for the WVNG said.

The training is meant to ensure those being trained are prepared to provide support to the West Virginia hospitals in the event of a Covid-19 surge. So although their support isn’t needed right away, soldiers want to be prepared and ready to help in anyway they can.

“If me volunteering and supporting and being compassionate can change the lives of the people of West Virginia and the people who are in this fight who are suffering, it’s important for us as a whole force and just me individually to be there,” trainee, Sgt. Sophia Perez said.

The training will continue through Monday.

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