CHEYENNE — To address the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations around the state, Governor Mark Gordon has authorized a three-pronged approach to provide additional support to Wyoming medical facilities.
The state will receive resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Wyoming National Guard, and through travelling medical staff contracted using CARES Act funds he directed to the Wyoming Hospital Association.
“I want to thank President Trump and his administration for providing much-needed resources to Wyoming to deal with the serious strain COVID-19 has put on our healthcare system,” Governor Gordon said. “We have had to call upon resources from outside the state to help deal with this surge in hospitalizations. Many thanks to the National Guard for answering our call to help in our hospitals. I also want to express my deepest gratitude to our frontline healthcare workers. Help is on the way.”
Hospitalizations are at record levels and have been increasing rapidly over the last several weeks. There are also several Wyoming hospitals that have expanded capacity to meet the influx of COVID-19 patients. Right now several hospitals are also at capacity for ICU beds.
Two Health and Medical Task Force (HMTF) teams from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System will deploy to Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center to help medical providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each 15-member team includes physicians and nurses who will support hospitals in Campbell and Laramie counties for 14 days. The communities were selected based on where the immediate need was greatest.
The Wyoming National Guard will also be providing support to hospitals by augmenting hospital staff. Guard members will be assisting with activities such as delivering meals and other activities to free up medical staff. There will be 10 guard members assigned to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne who will be deployed for 30 days unless extended upon request. Assistance with non-medical tasks helps the hospitals focus their medical resources on tasks where they can have the most impact.
“Our Guardsmen are poised to assist when the state is in a time of increased need,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Porter, adjutant general for the Wyoming National Guard. “Our soldiers and airmen are always ready to aid our neighbors and affected communities and partner with other agencies.”
Traveling medical staff has also begun to arrive in Wyoming to assist with the state’s COVD-19 response. The Governor allocated $10 million in CARES Act funding to the Wyoming Hospital Association to coordinate this previously announced effort. As many as 50 additional personnel are expected to be deployed throughout the state by the end of the week to provide staffing relief and ease the burden on hospital resources.
“This much-needed assistance came together with the coordination of several agencies,” Lynn Budd, Wyoming Office of Homeland Security Director said. “The result is a direct validation of the teamwork that is typical of Wyoming.”
As a part of Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) efforts to support Wyoming hospital capacity, the department has been in contact on an ongoing basis with Wyoming hospitals to discuss hospital capacity and surge plans. “Consistently we have been informed by hospitals that availability of medical personnel, specifically nurses, is their largest concern,” said Dirk Dijkstal, Health Readiness and Response Section chief with WDH.
These efforts were successful with the coordination of the Wyoming Department of Health, Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, Wyoming National Guard, Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.