FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — The U.S. Department of Defense is stepping in at local hospitals this Thanksgiving, deploying medical response teams to keep the doors open as beds and ICUs reach capacity.
From combat zones to deployment in uniform, gas masks, and shields on the critical care floor, 20 DOD medical response team members are currently supporting the staff at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital.
“They help us with every capacity in there as an inpatient hero, really,” Megan Tschacher, UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital’s charge nurse in the intensive care unit, said.
According to UCHealth and U.S. Army officials, these response teams will stay for as long as they are needed.
As of Thanksgiving morning, UCHealth hospitals in Colorado are caring for 399 patients, 133 of them in intensive care.
“Approximately 95% of our patients in the critical care environment are unvaccinated,” chief operating officer of UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital Ryan Rohman said. “I would say that light at the end of the tunnel is dimmer than it was in the past, and it is hard.”
The latest capacity numbers at UCHealth hospitals prompted Rohman and other administrators to contact the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency for help.
“It’s a scenario I thought I would never be in as a hospital administrator, that would I would be seeking help from the Department of Defense and be so appreciative that they are here to help us,” Rohman said.
“Our staff is overworked, and there are critical care patients that the nurses are taking care of three and sometimes four of them,” Tschacher said. “The fact they can come in and just fire in there and take patients really lets our nurses have somewhat of a break, even though we’re there. Instead of taking triples and things like that, they can take some weight off of our shoulders and we can breathe a little.”
Deployed members told FOX31 Thursday that their mission is to serve and support where there is a need, and they are thankful to be here in Colorado.
“Being able to help out, it is an honor,” U.S. Army 1st Lt. Anthony Albina said.
UCHealth is getting help from another FEMA team at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. Rohman says the team is focusing on monoclonal antibody assistance, which are antibodies made in labs to help treat COVID patients.