US Department of Defense team at Providence helping with COVID patients

SPOKANE, Wash.– You may have noticed more military members around Spokane lately.

There is a team of 20 of them here on a 30-day mission at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center to help the staff there battle the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re working alongside staff in the ICU and inpatient unit.

“We remain committed to supporting the Spokane community as we work to help relieve pressure on the healthcare system and workers overwhelmed by the Coronavirus pandemic,” Medical Team Response Commander Matthew Behil said.

The team consists of respiratory specialists, nurses and physicians.

Even though cases and hospitalizations are going down, Providence said it still has 100 COVID patients. That’s more than what they saw during last December’s surge.

Providence’s chief executive Peg Currie said taking care of COVID patients is no small task.

“This has been a very trying time not only for patients and their families because of visitor restrictions, but also for our caregivers who are experiencing a very extraordinary amount of death with COVID-19 patients,” Currie said.

Intensive care physician Lieutenant Garret Harp said a lot of the patients are COVID positive and many of them are on ventilators.

“So, it’s still a major problem here in this facility, but they’re getting top-notch care here from what I’ve seen so far,” Harp said.

The team is also working to help Providence get back to doing elective surgeries. Non-emergency surgeries and procedures have been paused since mid-September.

“Getting this team here is great, physicians are great they’re kind of like the frosting on the cake, but the nurses and the RT’s that’s kind of the cake, and that helps us get some of those people back to the OR, and getting some of those compelling surgeries done,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Getz.

If Providence still needs help at the end of the team’s 30-day mission, it will need to ask the state for help again.

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FEATURED: Inside the ICU: An exclusive look inside Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s intensive care unit