SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- In addition to his announcement on at-home tests, Governor Charlie Baker also announced on Tuesday that he is activating more members of the Massachusetts National Guard to help as the state's healthcare system has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the omicron variant.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise and people getting sick this time of year, hospitals are overwhelmed. At Baystate Health, patients with COVID-19 have hit an all-time high.
“Today, I also plan to activate 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard,” Baker said.
Baker is sending more help to hospitals around the Bay State. Rising COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the omicron variant and a severe healthcare worker shortage are all taking a toll. The 500 members is an add-on to the support already out there.
"These members are on top of the 500 we activated earlier this month. These guardsmen and women will join the ranks of soldiers already assisting our medical facilities,” Baker noted.
We checked in with local area hospitals to see where this extra help is headed. Baystate Health said they haven’t received word yet, but back in December, Baystate told us this about the national guard help they’re receiving.
“We currently have 17 national guard members deployed at Baystate Health - 11 at Baystate Medical Center, 2 at Baystate Noble Hospital, 2 at Baystate Wing Hospital, and 2 at Baystate Franklin Medical Center - who will be providing security, lobby, and screener support at this time.”
We reached out to Mercy Medical Center about the national guard support. They’re also waiting to see what happens. Cooley Dickinson hospital told us they're reviewing the situation.
This is all happening as frigid temperatures are setting in. It’s a time of year when more people might be headed to the emergency room for frostbite or something else.
"With the cold one of the things, we tend to see more this time of year is injuries, secondary to falling from the ice, from the snow,” said Dr. Mark Kenton, chief of emergency medicine at Mercy Medical Center.
Meanwhile, Tuesday marked record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Baystate Health system with 307 patients. A Baystate spokesperson told us they had never hit 300 hospitalized COVID-19 patients before Tuesday and added that they had gotten down to five COVID-19 patients on July 22 before the numbers began to climb again.
Baker is hoping more national guard assistance will help.
"This activation will alleviate some of the pressure in those places,” Baker noted.
The governor pointed out that not all guard members have medical training and those with training many times work in the healthcare field when they're not serving.