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 | March 11, 2022

167th Airmen assist in West Virginia hospitals

By Senior Airman Edward Michon, 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – For two years, the West Virginia National Guard has assisted with multiple roles and capacities in the fight against COVID-19 within the state.

In January, Gov. Jim Justice directed his Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) and his COVID-19 pandemic leadership to review and approve requests for additional staffing support throughout West Virginia hospitals.

The West Virginia National Guard answered the call to assist in staffing several hospitals in the state and committed up to 350 Airmen and Soldiers to the mission, approximately 40 of whom were 167th Airmen.

“A great deal of military members who volunteered for the mission were not medical providers and don’t have medical jobs,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rob Fluharty, a human resources adviser at the 167th Airlift Wing who is serving as the noncommissioned officer in charge at Jackson General Hospital in Ripley. “But unit members were able to adapt and overcome so that they could perform duties in support of the needs of medical patients and staff.”

Regardless of their military jobs, these service members understood the mission to support the hospitals by any means necessary.

“We came to support these hospitals in their greatest time of need,” said Fluharty. “We were able to provide the manpower needed to relieve the hospital staff of some routine duties.”

While in the hospitals, service members filled various roles, including food, linen and environmental services, materials management, patient transport and emergency department assistance.

“Within just days, hospital staff members were saying how relieved they were to have help,” said Maj. Lorie Wyatt, a 167th Medical Group Airman serving as the officer in charge at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. “It’s the behind-the-scenes work that allows a hospital to run smoothly.”

At J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, Wyatt and her team were able to help open the facility’s sterile packaging room for the first time in months and triple their output of sterile packaging to facilities in need.

Patient transport times were reduced by an average of 4 to 5 minutes just weeks after Guard members arrived.

“It’s a true testament to the effectiveness and productivity our members have to offer,” said Wyatt.

Master Sgt. Travis Sites, a 167th Medical Group Airman serving as the noncommissioned officer in charge at Boone Memorial Hospital in Boone County, also reported improvements there.

“The hospital was behind on their lab reports and we were able to get them back to real-time reporting,” said Sites. “We could see how much the staff and patients appreciated us. It really motivated us to work together to accomplish the mission and help the community.”

Elizabeth Garrasi, emergency management program director at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, said the military support was appreciated.

“They were very welcomed by our staff, our patients and our community,” said Garassi. “They had an impact almost instantaneously. Seeing the Guard there in uniform was a huge morale booster.”



Related Articles
West Virginia Army National Guard Pfc. Kristen Denny of Martinsburg, West Virginia, is working in the Berkley Medical Center in Berkley Springs, W.Va., as part the COVID response mission. This mission in her hometown is the first for Denny, who graduated in August from Army basic training and advanced individual training as a carpentry and masonry specialist.
West Virginia Guard members serve in their local hospitals
By Spc. Meghan Keller, | Jan. 31, 2022
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “Always ready, Always there” is proving to be the undeniable truth, not just a motto, for West Virginia Army National Guard members serving on the COVID-19 response mission in their hometown...

Members of the West Virginia National Guard helped conduct a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, March 26, 2021. More than 200 employees were vaccinated, demonstrating a whole of government public-private partnership that has helped West Virginia become a nationally recognized leader in COVID-19 vaccine administration.
WVNG medical unit ensures Soldier readiness, COVID response
By Edwin Wriston, | June 10, 2021
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The second floor of the U.S. Army Reserve building may seem at first glance like an unassuming office space.Within that space, however, resides a unit that plays a crucial role in the health and success of...

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Katie Farrell, an aerospace medical technician with the 167th Medical Group assigned to the West Virginia National Guard’s Task Force Medical – East, administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to an Airman in the 167th Airlift Wing dining facility, Martinsburg, West Virginia, April 11, 2021. The vaccine is administered in two shots, with the second shot administered no more than six weeks after the first.
167th Airmen are force multipliers in fight against COVID-19
By Senior Airman Edward Michon, | April 16, 2021
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Approximately 60 Airmen from the 167th Airlift Wing are supporting COVID-19 relief efforts throughout West Virginia, a key component in the fight against the pandemic.Since the start of the pandemic, the...