Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities across the nation experienced severe staffing shortages.
The pandemic has compounded the problem.
To help alleviate the issues in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an emergency order last month to deploy more than 100 Georgia National Guard troops to healthcare facilities across the state.
On the heels of that order, Tanner Health System submitted a request for support. On Monday, the health system welcomed a unit of about 18 National Guard troops to support the health system’s nutrition services and environmental services staff.
“We are grateful to have the National Guard’s support,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO for Tanner Health System. “Throughout this pandemic, Gov. Kemp has been keenly interested in making sure hospitals in Georgia have the resources they need to get through this. It means a great deal to us to have these men and women in uniform here to help as our community struggles through this COVID crisis.”
Gary Thomas, vice president of campus and support services for Tanner, echoed the sentiment.
“We are proud to have these servicemen and women here to support our frontline teams,” said Thomas, adding that Tanner has also requested support through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) for clinical services.
Thomas also expressed thanks to Carroll County EMA Director Tim Padgett, who assisted in getting Tanner’s requests for personnel and equipment, such as ventilators, submitted through GEMA, and for his support in coordinating the requests throughout the process.
The deployment of the unit currently at Tanner is set through Dec. 3, 2021, but the governor can extend that date if Tanner’s need persists.
The current unit of service members will be deployed at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton and Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica.
Answering the Call: ‘Always Ready. Always There.’
Established in 1636, the National Guard is part of the reserve arm of the United States Army and the United States Air Force.
The National Guard responds to national emergencies and supports military operations around the U.S. and abroad.
When activated by a state’s governor, the Guard can also be called into action during statewide emergencies, as they have during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the leadership of those called to Tanner are Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Camp and 1st Lt. Joshua Julien, officer in charge, from the HHC 2-121 Infantry Battalion of Forsyth, Georgia.
Each service member has a long list of deployments with the Georgia National Guard, with Sgt. Camp serving for nearly 14 years and Lt. Julien for about eight years.
Over the past year and a half, both Guardsmen have answered the call of duty time and time again, deploying with their teams to hospitals across the state.
This mission is no different.
“We volunteer to step up to help the community,” said Lt. Julien. “We’ve been working in hospitals that are understaffed and overpopulated, but we are here to help relieve some of the stress for staff at Tanner and help patients get the care they need.”
Before the troops assumed their posts across the health system, Howard thanked them for their service and support and caring for the community.
“You’re going to make a huge difference in the lives of the patients and families you meet and interact with at Tanner,” said Howard. “It means so much to have you here and to see our men and women in uniform take the time to help us through this crisis.”
Click here to learn more about Tanner's COVID-19 response.