CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Navy medical team wraps up mission at University of Utah Hospital

Mar 30, 2022, 7:12 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2022, 8:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – University Hospital hosted a “clap out” ceremony Wednesday as a team of Navy medics left the hospital following a 30-day deployment.

Staff applauded the Navy medics as they headed home.

The Navy sent 23 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and administrators. It was part of the Department of Defense plan to support medical centers affected by the COVID pandemic.

The virus caused the hospital to cancel non-urgent surgeries as beds filled with COVID patients and many staff called in sick themselves.

“We appreciated your sacrifice. We were lucky to have you,” said Dr. Kencee Graves, associate chief medical officer at University Hospital.

There was a backlog of more than 500 non-urgent surgeries. The naval team helped reduce it by 25% making it hard for the U. doctors to say goodbye.

“If I could clone you guys so you could stay here but also go home to San Diego with your families, I would,” Graves said.

Navy medic Sebastien Fontages said, “It’s been a privilege and honor to serve the Salt Lake City community.”

The Navy team arrived on March 2, just as Utah started to recover from the omicron surge.

Now that the partnership is over, both the hospital and the Navy will assess how it worked. They’ll look at how many hospital beds they were able to free up, and the number of patients who received care.

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