Navy sends medical team to U of U Hospital to help ease pandemic overload

Mar 2, 2022, 11:29 AM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Reinforcements from the U.S. Navy have arrived at the University of Utah. They’ve been described as the cavalry — a medical team from the U.S. Navy offering support to U of U Health staff who have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

There’s been a backlog of surgeries on hold because of difficult pandemic conditions and now it’s time to get caught up. FEMA answered the call to help University Hospital by deploying a team of medical doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists.

The CEO of U of U Health, Dr. Michael Good, said their 30-day deployment comes at a critical time.

“It’s hard to capture in words what this will mean for our teams,” he said.

In the last few weeks, Good said his staff has been overwhelmed caring for COVID-19 patients during the omicron variant surge and they’ve had to defer over 500 patient surgeries.

“Perhaps, someone’s had their cancer removed but not yet had their reconstructive surgery.”

Now as they enter a recovery phase, the hospital needs help getting caught up, but it’s been difficult because of staff shortages.

“We have about twice as many vacancies that we typically have,” said Good.

This is the first time the hospital has received much-needed help from the U.S. Navy and hope they won’t have to call on them again.

“I think we’ll make a good start. I don’t know if we’ll get everything done during the time of deployment.”

At the end of the 30-day deployment, both the hospital and Navy will assess how this partnership worked, and how many hospital beds they were able to free up, and the number of patients who received care.

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Navy sends medical team to U of U Hospital to help ease pandemic overload