A sign in front of O'Bleness Hospital in Athens, Ohio
Emergency rooms throughout Southeast Ohio have been increasingly busy with the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured is the emergency room sign at OhioHealth O’Bleness in Athens, Ohio. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]

Ten Ohio National Guard members will be deployed to O’Bleness Hospital to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The Ohio National Guard is sending 10 members to Athens to assist O’Bleness Hospital with COVID-19 relief efforts next week.

The guard members will not provide direct patient care but will serve as non-clinical support to hospital workers, according to a release from OhioHealth. The hospital said examples of what they might do includes “serving as patient companions, providing assistance to patients with mobility limitations, stocking supplies and answering phones.”

Guard members are scheduled to arrive at O’Bleness on Monday for orientation and will begin working at the hospital Tuesday. Their assignment is scheduled to last 90 days but could be shortened or lengthened as needed.

Gov. Mike DeWine first authorized 1,050 members of the Ohio Nation Guard to serve in hospitals around the state last month as the omicron variant began to surge in the state and overwhelm healthcare facilities.

(Click here to read where Ohio National Guard members have been deployed.)

“…our associates are feeling the strain of this present surge,” OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital President LeeAnn Lucas-Helber said. “The support of the Ohio National Guard will provide a welcome relief and we’re very grateful to accept this resource.”

The omicron surge has strained resources for hospitals around the region, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Hospitals in Region 7, a 10 county region which includes Athens County, only had three available ICU beds as of Thursday.

A chart shows hospital data in a 10 county region that includes Athens County