LITTLE ROCK, Ark – UAMS in Little Rock welcomed in a team of 20 medical personnel from the U.S. Army Monday to help with ongoing COVID care efforts.
The team is made up of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists who will work to care for COVID-19 patients in the hospital and ICU.
“Everybody was so excited,” Clinical Services Manager in the COVID ICU Elizabeth Sullivan said.
For the past year and a half Sullivan says she has watched her staff work overtime to try and care for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. She says work has picked up in the last few months due to staffing shortages.
“The emotional toll and just the physical deterioration has been pretty crazy,” Sullivan said. “As a nurse it really makes you worry because it makes you feel like you’re not doing everything you can that you need to for your patient.”
Sgt. Brandon Stronko arrived with the team just a few days ago. He will be working as a respiratory therapist for the next month at UAMS.
“The mindset is to be ready to work,” Sgt. Stronko said.
Stronko is stationed in Georgia. There he says he takes care of about five patients on ventilators a day. At UAMS for one therapist, he says that number is closer to nine or 10.
“The main problem is from fatigue from multiple days worked in a week,” Sgt. Stronko said. “You know five shifts in a week can be a lot and it does wear on your morale.”
Staffing shortages have been an issue across the nation for the last couple of months. Sgt. Stronko says it’s less of a workload problem and more about the emotional stress these doctors and nurses are put under.
“It gets rough, you know getting to know everybody’s families and watching those family members pass away,” Sgt. Stronko said.
He’s hoping he and the rest of the team can take off some of the weight felt by staff at UAMS.
“We’re all struggling and were all trying to look out for each other,” Sgt. Stronko said.
The team will be at UAMS for about 30 days. The program they are a part of is at the request of FEMA.