SALT LAKE CITY — A specialized team of Navy medical personnel is shipping out after a month at the University of Utah Hospital as their mission is now complete and their tour is over.
This team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists stepped in to help the beleaguered hospital staff who were already overwhelmed due to COVID-19 cases, even before the omicron surge hit.
As they were leaving, the team received a round of applause.
During the pandemic, hospital dealt with the sickest of the sick patients in a five-state area. Nearly 500 surgeries were postponed, while doctors and nurses were getting very little, if any, time off.
That's when Navy medical reinforcements showed up and jumped right into the fight.
“I would say here it was mostly focused on COVID and also the impact COVID has had on the hospital. Such as, the doctor was saying, opening up the schedule for surgeries,” said HM2 Sebastien Fontanges.
“From the day they arrived they were professional, accommodating and mission driven to help us deliver the best care in the Intermountain West,” said Dr. Kence Graves.
Thanks to the reinforcements and due to declining COVID case counts, Graves said the hospital is catching up on those postponed surgeries. It also allows them to open up beds they weren’t able to utilize due to not having enough staff.
The Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Administration sent similar teams to other hospitals around the country.