Federal government support is at a Saginaw hospital in the form of medical personnel, nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists.

The troops are staying at a local hotel and helping Covenant Healthcare during the latest COVID-19 surge and staff shortage.

Forty federal troops have started treating patients at Covenant Healthcare. The additional staffing arrived last week.

"Having this additional support this time to help us with this last surge is, it's important. It's helped the morale of our team, our staff. It's just been a tremendous couple of weeks after we got notified," said Kevin Birchmeier, executive vice president for Covenant.

Covenant applied for the support around Thanksgiving due to staffing challenges and the surge in COVID-19 cases.

"This just gives us more resources to be able to hopefully extend back to those regions that we haven't been able to take patients. And also give our staff, you know, some motivation and understanding that we're looking for all areas to help support them," Birchmeier said.

Covenant is one of three hospital systems in Michigan to get the help.

In the last month, unvaccinated patients made up more than three-quarters of all COVID-19 deaths in the state. The team will be at the hospital for the next month.

Jocephus Carlile is the officer in charge of the team in Saginaw.

"Our goal is to get the community better. To get the hospital in a better place to be able to treat the local civilian, the local population here," Carlile said. "When we come into a facility, a lot of the healthcare workers are struggling. They've been fighting this covid pandemic for a long time. So, when we arrive, some people get really emotional inside the facility because we bring relief to them."

Most of the additional personnel are helping in the ICU, while others are with urgent care.

Copyright 2021 WNEM. All rights reserved.

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