FORT THOMAS, Ky. — National Guard troops are now helping hospitals in Northern Kentucky packed with patients.
What You Need To Know
- National Guard troops are now helping at hospitals in Northern Kentucky
- Troops are helping with screening COVID-19 patients and disinfecting hospitals
- One troop said he is from Northern Kentucky, so helping with patients is personal for him
- He said they will be there for as long as they’re needed
These hospitals join others in the state that are receiving this kind of help after President Joe Biden extended reimbursement to states for mobilizing National Guard personnel.
For First Lt. Cole Harshbarger, helping support the medical staff at St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas after a surge in COVID-19 patients is personal.
“I’m from Boone County, so it’s right in my backyard,” he said.
Harshbarger’s team comes from the 103rd Chemical Battalion of the Kentucky National Guard. Rather than responding to radiological or chemical exposures, they’re doing things like screening patients for COVID-19, disinfecting parts of the hospital, delivering patients meals and helping clean dishes.
Anything the staff needs them to do, Harshbarger said.
“It shows just how fluid we are, and we can accept any mission. I never would have thought that one day I’d be putting on a uniform to go to a hospital to work,” he said. "The primary goal is being able to relieve some of the hospital staff in certain spots so that they can focus on patients and getting them the care and support that they need.”
Harshbarger is one of 16 National Guard members split between three St. Elizabeth hospitals in Northern Kentucky, the other two being St. Elizabeth Edgewood and St. Elizabeth Florence.
They’re the latest troops deployed to help at Kentucky hospitals in need. And they’ll be Northern Kentucky for as long as they are needed, Harshbarger said.
He said he knows the work they’re doing could be the difference in freeing up someone else to help save lives in the community he grew up in.
“We’re making a difference. Day one, we could see it,” he said.
St. Elizabeth sent Spectrum News 1 a statement saying, “St. Elizabeth Healthcare is grateful for the service that 16 Kentucky National Guard members will provide to our system over the next several weeks. Our dedicated team of service members will assist with nonclinical functions within our hospitals to allow for our staff members to assist in patient care areas where there is greater need due to the delta variant surge. We welcome these service members to St. Elizabeth Healthcare and look forward to working alongside them.”