Sparrow Hospital welcomes help from Army medical team

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Medical staff at Sparrow Hospital welcomed much-needed reinforcements early Saturday.

A Department of Defense medical team began their 30-day stay at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and were greeted by relieved hospital staff who have been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years. Some came from as far away as Hawaii.

This weekend, they will swap their uniforms for scrubs to help medical staff who face long hours and staff shortages.

“Even after the arrival ceremony a member of staff came over and gave me a huge hug saying thank you very much, how much it means to her and the staff in terms of knowing they got this help because they’ve held on for so long hoping more help would come,” said James Dover, president and CEO of Sparrow Hospital.

He said the hospital was struggling. Especially in places that need an extra helping hand like the night shift, ICU and emergency room.

The 20-plus member team includes doctors, nurses, respiratory disease specialists and command staff.

Dover said the soldiers will be mixed with Sparrow personnel to help ease stress in the hardest hit departments.

“The emergency room has been completely impacted during this period, especially with the omicron variant, where we see every day – 50, 60 people waiting for an inpatient bed. They are basically hospitalized and cared for in an emergency room,” Dover continued.

Representative Elissa Slotkin was there to greet the team. She said the deployment of medical teams like this across the country shows the pandemic is far from over.

“I have really felt over the past two years that covid is the front line of America’s last war. And our nurses and doctors served on those front lines largely without relief for two years,” said 8th District Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D).

Slotkin said the process of getting the team to the middle of Michigan required the coordination of state and federal authorities and hospital personnel. Currently, five other medical teams have been deployed to hospitals in Michigan.

“Many, many more have been asking and that’s been part of the conversation we’ve had over the last two months, right. There’s a lot of competition for those resources,” Slotkin said.

The team will be there for an initial 30 day period, with an evaluation at the end to help decide if the team is still needed. Dover said he already expected to request an extension to the deployment.

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