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Military medical personnel to deploy at Rochester hospitals to help



Rochester, New York — Omicron variant hit the hospitals in the Rochester area from two sides: an influx of patients and a shortage of staff.

After the federal government sent military help to some hospitals across the country, the University of Rochester Medical Center is asking for some relief.

Senator Chuck Schumer was at Strong Memorial Hospital Friday, asking federal agencies for military medical teams and disaster medical assistance to relieve staff at local hospitals. However, there is no guarantee that they’re coming as of now.

During the third wave of COVID, Strong hospital leaders say they need help.

“We are seeing as many COVID positive patients today as we saw in the winter of 2021. It’s different this time around though because it’s been compounded by a number of workforce-related issues,” said Kathy Parrinello, Chief Operating Officer at Strong.

Last week URMC reported 1,350 employees out of work with COVID. Staff picked up extra shifts and canceled vacation time to meet the needs of the 930 patients admitted at Strong.

“Many staff have gone to travel agencies, the travel agencies have been more than aggressive and take advantage of salary, to relocate staff. We have managers that are working in other areas to try to assist staff and meeting patient needs,” said Steven Goldstein, URMC CEO.

In order to help, Schumer is calling for military nurses, doctors, and support personnel. Up to 90 members of support personnel could be coming to the area.

“How do you battle the latest COVID surge and get front-line workers the help they need? I say bring in the troops,” said Schumer.

According to Schumer, its up to FEMA, Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense to deploy teams.

“Even a week from now if it’s not needed, it will save a lot of lives in the coming weeks if we can get them,” said Schumer.

According to Schumer, he is asking for those teams to come to the Finger Lakes area as soon as possible, but there is no timeline as to when they could be coming.