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NEWS | Dec. 8, 2021

NY National Guard sends 120 troops to bolster long-term care

By Eric Durr, New York National Guard

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The New York National Guard has deployed 120 Army medics and Air Force medical technicians to 12 nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state to ease staffing shortages.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered the mission, announced Dec. 1.

The nursing facilities are located from Long Island to Buffalo and north to the Canadian border.

In selecting Soldiers and Airmen for the mission, New York National Guard planners looked for trained medics or medical technicians who were not also working in the health care field in their civilian life, according to Brig. Gen. Isabel Rivera Smith, the director of joint operations for the New York National Guard.

“It makes no sense to take a young woman who is an Air Force med-tech and works at a hospital out of that job, only to place her in another health care facility,” Smith said.

The federally funded job is part of the ongoing COVID-19 mission recently extended to next spring.

Before this latest mission, the New York National Guard was staffing 13 vaccination and six logistics sites and assembling COVID-19 test kits.

This week the health teams reported to facilities in Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Utica, Plattsburgh, Uniondale, Liberty, Vestal, Olean, Lyons and Goshen.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello told Spectrum News Rochester that he hoped the National Guard troops would ease the capacity problem plaguing the local health care system.

“We’re very grateful for their presence here and their help and support,” Bello said. “This is how we can help in the short-term, the hospital systems, is to turn on that pipeline from hospitals into nursing homes of residents that don’t need an acute care bed but would be better off in a nursing home setting.”

“For most of these medics, they have never worked in a nursing home, so it’s still a little bit of a culture shock,” Alyssa Tallo, the Monroe Community Hospital executive health director, told Spectrum News.

New York Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jeff Gray, a member of the 107th Attack Wing, said his 12-person team, including 11 Army Guard medics, was training as nurses assistants to fill in staffing gaps at the Terrace View Long-Term Care Facility in Buffalo.

This is the New York National Guard's latest mission since the first 200 Soldiers and Airmen went on duty in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

New York National Guard personnel have:
• Collected 3 million COVID-19 attestation forms at airports;
• Supported the administration of 4 million vaccinations, with Guard members administering 122,754 shots;
• Collected 1.67 million COVID-19 tests;
• Put together 14.4 million COVID-19 test kits;
• Created a field hospital in New York City;
• Established the largest mass vaccination site in the country;
• Provided 54.8 million meals to needy New Yorkers;
• Fielded 278,162 phone calls seeking COVID-19 information;
• Processed 57,445 pallets of supplies;
• Helped the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office recover the remains of deceased New Yorkers.