An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | April 7, 2020

Ohio Guard helps state evaluate alternate care sites

By Tech. Sgt. Shane Hughes Ohio National Guard

UPPER SANDUSKY, Ohio – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine turned to the Ohio National Guard to help develop a plan to expand medical capacity as Ohio’s health care systems brace for the looming COVID-19 peak.

The Ohio National Guard’s response? A regional approach supporting state agencies aimed at one goal: identifying alternate care sites that are not traditionally considered medical facilities. Soldiers and Airmen who specialize in engineering and construction are supporting this effort by using their military and civilian expertise to find solutions for Ohio.

Based on the five geographical Ohio Emergency Management Agency-designated regions in the state, Joint Engineer Assessment Teams, or JEATs – a collaboration of the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio EMA, Ohio National Guard and regional officials – evaluated unused state facilities, convention centers, commercial properties and academic buildings.

One of the JEATs visited Upper Sandusky High School April 4 to evaluate the school as a potential alternate medical care facility to treat overflow patients from hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, should the anticipated need become a reality.

“We don’t know how many patients we’re going to see come down with COVID-19 in the next few weeks,” said Valerie Schalk, vice president of operations and chief nursing officer for Wyandot Memorial Hospital in Upper Sandusky. “We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.”

Each regional JEAT evaluation is part of a proactive, whole-of-government approach to expanding medical capacity, so hospitals are prepared for a surge in patients and their critical medical staff can continue to provide life-saving care.

“This is an Ohio mission and everyone involved brings a specific skill set and a different way of looking at things to the team,” said Army Maj. Brett Green, the team leader for Northwest Ohio. “One of our Air Force guys is an electrical engineer and on the Army side I have a civil engineer. We’re bringing the talent pool together to help the people of Ohio.”

Army Capt. Tim Cope, an engineer adviser for the Northwest Ohio JEAT, agreed. “Every member of this team was selected because they have unique skills and expertise they bring to this mission,” he said. “We’re leveraging their civilian expertise, and that’s something you don’t get from active-duty components.”

Cope said factors his team evaluates include how many beds a facility can support, electrical capacity for nursing stations and medical equipment, availability of outdoor space for medical screenings, full-service kitchens to prepare meals for staff and patients, showers and restrooms and internet capabilities.

The school is one of seven sites considered for the Northwest Ohio region. Because schools are temporarily closed and provide access to many of these resources, they are potentially ideal for alternate care facilities. Schalk said the school’s proximity to the hospital and major highways was also a plus.

“Based on the Ohio Department of Health’s predictions, we should be able to handle at least three times our capacity at the hospital, but if it goes past that, this would be a secondary site for us to treat patients,” said Ty Shaull, chief executive officer for Wyandot Memorial Hospital.

Shaull said the site would most likely be used for patients who do not have COVID-19, to relieve pressure on the hospital and free up resources for patients in need of critical care, but it could also be used for patients whose symptoms are not severe or for patients in recovery.

The governor announced April 6 the selection of six initial alternate care sites: SeaGate Convention Centre, Lucas County; Case Western University’s Health Education Campus, Cuyahoga County; Dayton Convention Center, Montgomery County; Covelli Centre, Mahoning County; Duke Energy Convention Center, Hamilton County; and Greater Columbus Convention Center, Franklin County.

The plan is to have the first sites operational by mid-April.

“It’s a tough mission against an unseen enemy, but we’re ready,” Green said. “Ultimately, we really hope that we never have to use these sites.”



Related Articles
New York Army National Guard Pvt. Joshua Morales, a member of the 133rd Combat Support Company, directs a COVID-19 vaccination registrant to The State University of New York, Stony Brook, vaccination site March 16th, 2021.
NY National Guard Wraps up Federally Funded COVID-19 Mission
By Eric Durr, | July 1, 2022
LATHAM, N.Y. - More than 840 days after the first Soldiers and Airmen went on duty to stem an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in New Rochelle, the New York National Guard’s federally supported COVID-19 mission came to an end...

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Nardo, 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard, injects James Bordeaux with a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Camp Johnson, Vermont, March 18, 2021.
Vermont National Guard Concludes COVID-19 Missions
By Capt. Mikel Arcovitch, | June 30, 2022
COLCHESTER, Vt. – Vermont National Guard Soldiers and Airmen supporting Vermont’s COVID-19 response mission officially end orders July 1.The first mission began March 23, 2020, when Soldiers established a medical surge...

Brig. Gen. Tim Covington, the Wisconsin National Guard’s deputy adjutant general for civil support, presents a coin to 2nd Lt. Jonathon Jennings for his leadership as a platoon leader of Wisconsin National Guard nursing assistants supporting health care facilities during a ceremony at the Mayo Clinic in La Crosse April 26, 2022. The Wisconsin National Guard is winding down its nursing assistant support mission around the state.
Wisconsin National Guard wraps up nursing care support
By Maj. Joe Trovato, | April 29, 2022
LA CROSSE, Wis. – After more than three months, Wisconsin National Guard members’ mission to help as nursing assistants at state health care facilities is winding down.Senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders and officials...