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Medical Workers Arrive In Syracuse To Assist Upstate University Hospital

Medical workers from different parts of the U.S. are in Syracuse for 14 days to assist with the high amounts of patients in hospitals due to the pandemic, on top of the usual medical emergencies. Typically, it takes them three to four days to get up to speed with policies and the hospital’s electronic medical system. However, National Disaster Medical System Assistance Team Commander Timothy Tackett says his team was fully integrated and working within 36 hours in Syracuse.

“We’re working 12 hour shifts around the clock. We’re pretty much split evenly with our 30 folks and covering everything. We also stagger our shifts where we shift change at a different time than the hospital staff so we don’t have that confusion. Let them get their shift change done and come in after that,” said Tackett.

Tackett says the high volume of incoming patients needing care in Syracuse is really not any different than what his team of 31 has experienced elsewhere. He says the warm welcome by administrators and staff at Upstate University Hospital has been unlike any other experience. Dr. William Paolo is the hospital’s Chief of Emergency Medicine. He says they greatly appreciate the extra help and the anticipated lowering of wait times for patients.

"So in essence as opposed to the beginning of the pandemic where the big problem was the pandemic solely, now you have both the pandemic and a staffing crisis. That makes a team like this so necessary to help Upstate, and its done an excellent job over the 3 days already that we work with them and really making a difference that you heard: ambulance offload, patient delays, all those sorts of things," said Paolo.

When asked about lower staffing levels and the unwillingness of former employees to get a COVID vaccine, the doctor says it played a very small role in the current staffing shortage seen both here and nationwide. Paolo explains the pandemic itself has caused hospital care workers to retire or to simply leave their jobs due to burnout. The National Disaster Medical System Team will be at Upstate through January 14th.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.