U.S. Navy sending team to Methodist Hospital to help with rising COVID-19 cases

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Methodist Hospital (IBJ file photo)

Federal officials are sending a 23-person U.S. Navy team to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to help relieve overwhelmed staffers at Indiana’s largest hospital.

The U.S. Army North in San Antonio announced Monday that medical personnel from the Navy team will include physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists. The move comes at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Responding to an inquiry by IBJ, the Indiana Department of Health specified that Methodist would receive four doctors, 14 nurses and two registered technicians, along with three administrative staffers.

Indiana University Health, the parent of Methodist Hospital, requested staffing assistance from FEMA, according to an IU Health spokeswoman. The team is set to work with the hospital for 30 days, beginning this week.

“[The team will] be integrated into medical units at IU Health Methodist in areas of greatest need,” said public relations manager Lisa Tellus. “IU Health leadership continues to meet with U.S. military leadership to navigate the operations plan and ensure optimal utilization of this support team.”

The Indiana Hospital Association said Tuesday morning it was grateful for the assistance and for the work of the Indiana Department of Health in coordinating federal help as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb.

“There has never been this much strain on Indiana’s health care system, and it does not look like it will let up any time soon,” said Brian Tabor, IHA’s president.

The Navy is also sending a 20-person team to a hospital in Wisconsin.

“Since COVID began, our military medical personnel have been committed to fighting the pandemic and supporting our local, state and federal partners and communities in need,” Lt. Gen. John R. Evans, Jr., U.S. Army North commander, said in a media release.

“As we look ahead to the holiday season and 2022, we must remain vigilant in our fight, especially now as Indiana and Wisconsin are added to our supported states and we must keep in our thoughts the service members and healthcare professionals on the front lines,” Evans said.

The move comes as Indiana hospitals are warning that they are running out of beds, the situation is getting critical, and patient-care workers are exhausted.

Several hospital systems, including Indiana Health and Ascension St. Vincent, have enlisted the Indiana National Guard to help during the latest surge. Hospitals are also dealing with a severe shortage of nurses and other patient-care professionals, many of whom have retired, quit or taken administrative jobs.

On Sunday, three large hospital systems, including Indiana University Health, placed a full-page ad in the Indianapolis Star pleading with Hoosiers to get vaccinated, boosted, tested and wear masks.

“The situation is dire,” the ad said.  “We have more patients in our hospitals than we have beds. We’re converting available units into critical care wards, just to make room. And as you know, healthcare workers across the country are exhausted and running out of steam.”

The ad coincided with news that Indiana health officials identified the first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in an unvaccinated Hoosier. The specimen was collected on Dec. 9 and confirmed as an omicron variant by lab tests this past weekend.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 tripled in recent weeks to 3,029 on Wednesday. By Sunday, the total had slipped a bit to 2,971. The pandemic high was 3,460 on Nov. 20, 2020.

On Monday, state health officials reported that only 16% of intensive care unit beds were available statewide.

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25 thoughts on “U.S. Navy sending team to Methodist Hospital to help with rising COVID-19 cases

  1. And what if they hadn’t fired professional healthcare workers due to what are now obviously bad decisions regarding vaccine mandates? The vaccines only have minimal effect on COVID and the new “omicron” variant seems to be completely un-affected by being vaccinated. Now we have to resort to using the U.S. military to make up for a situation these hospitals created by following a government “encouraged” mandate.
    Yet another VERY sad situation.

    1. Literally everything you said was wrong there, Neil.

      Only minuscule numbers of actual healthcare workers skipped the shot. Most have left after almost 2 years of dealing with COVID deaths because they’re burned out.

      Vaccines do a great job of keeping people out of hospitals and morgues. Compare the numbers between Indiana and Massachusetts – same number of citizens, but half as many hospitalized or dying in Massachusetts. Maybe the 20% higher vaccination rate makes a difference … or maybe you want to claim Dunkin Donuts coffee is the secret. Your call.

      Just remember that the next time Republican leaders tell you about the threat that Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer or AOC are … this virus ACTUALLY IS coming for you, because the mind of the Republican base voter has been infected with nonsense and they are the ones dying now. Yet Republican leaders keep lying to you, telling you that your liberty is more important than your health.

      Trump tried to change the narrative this weekend, but it’s far too late. If you don’t have two shots in your arm already you’re a sitting duck, and you can’t get boostered until six months after the second shot.

      The unvaccinated may as well be those who laughed at Noah for building that ark… at some point, watching the waters rise and realizing that they were in trouble, they had to regret their choices and tried to change the outcome. It was too late, though.

    2. “The vaccines only have minimal effect on Covid”…

      That’s where I quit reading your uninformed post!

    3. This statement is nonsense. As this is polite commentary one entreats you to read and to understand. Obviously, you have not done so. Or ask a health profession to explain to you.

      This is exactly the type of misinformation that has led to the dire situation in which we live.

      At least wear a mask. Preferably, get a vaccine which provides the highest level of safety for both Delta and Omicron in preventing serious illness and hospitalization – and massive unnecessary costs to everyone, be it direct payments or increase insurance to cover sick hospitalized vaccine scofflaws.

      In other words for you — vaccines keep you out of the hospital and from dying; any infection would be minor rather than a death sentence.

      Lack of understanding such a this is a strong indication of the importance of education.

    4. Quote from Joe B: The unvaccinated may as well be those who laughed at Noah for building that ark…

      So, do you believe the Biblical account of Noah and the ark and the reasons God had him build it, Joe? From your various posts, I never got the idea that you were a Christian.

    5. Blah, blah , blah….get the facts and get vaccinated. If not for yourself, your your fellow healthcare workers who are EXHAUSTED. Or, how about this: if you’re not vaccinated and need critical care services due to Covid, you give up your “right” to a critical care bed to others.

    6. I am, Bob. But I also believe Jesus would have regarded today’s evangelical Christians as worse than the Pharisees.

  2. Very well said, Joe. I can’t understand how/why so many people have lost faith in medical science (although it doesn’t stop them from going to the hospital when they DO become ill).

    1. It’s going to take people literally dying on the hospital sidewalks for people to maybe change their minds. And even then, the claim in conservative media would be that it’s all Joe Biden’s fault, that those are just actors or antifa’s just stealing bodies from morgues of people who didn’t die of COVID …

      People are now literally dying from the misinformation communicated via Facebook and conservative media. Maybe we should label their death certificates as misinformation deaths and stick it to the hospitals who are “profiting” from COVID deaths.

  3. Hospitals are as responsible for the deaths as anyone. Clinical procedures by Hospitals not understanding th COVID virus strains have killed alot of people. Doctors and nurses with no background in infectious disease were cascading the issues of people infected with COVID.

    1. Troops have signed up for the possibility of facing death at a scale that most of us can’t comprehend. Our doctors and nurses made no such vow, which maybe explains why they’re quitting due to burnout.

      So, yes, maybe hospitals are to blame for trying to save the anti-vaxers. Not like saving them changed any minds.

      This current wave of hospitalization and death was 100% preventable.

  4. Joe B. –
    1) It is the democrat, liberal, snowflake, etc. that are NOT getting vaccinated.
    2) The vaccine does not prevent COVID, and does NOT affect the Omicron variant.
    3) Over 200 Indiana health-care workers were “released” due to no jab.
    4) Nationwide, 1 in 5 health-care workers have left due to mandates, overwork, etc.

    1. 1) “Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That’s according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic. NPR looked at deaths per 100,000 people in roughly 3,000 counties across the U.S. from May 2021, the point at which vaccinations widely became available. People living in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.73 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump saw higher COVID-19 mortality rates.”
      2) Vaccines work if they’re preventing hospitalization and death. Reference the Massachusetts data.
      3/4) More are quitting due to burnout than mandated vaccinations. Most workers were already facing mandated flu or other vaccinations to be employed, but you knew that, right?

      We are reaching the endemic stage of COVID. We are all going to get it. The vaccinated and boostered will have minor symptoms (if any) and should keep living their lives.

      The unvaccinated are going to clog up the hospitals if we let them. We should put them in giant field hospitals at the Fairgrounds and move them to the regular health care system if there’s excess capacity. It’s time to save the health care system and not burn any more workers out.


    2. “New data analysis has revealed that if US Democratic voters were to make up their own country, it would have one of the world’s most vaccinated populations, with more than 91% of adults having received at least one shot.

      Meanwhile, approximately 60% of Republican adults have received their first shot, according to data research by the New York Times.

      And the gap in Covid’s death toll between “blue” states that vote mostly Democratic and “red” states that vote mostly Republican this fall widened more quickly than at any previous point of the pandemic.

      A total of 25 out of every 100,000 residents in counties that voted for Donald Trump died of Covid in October, compared with the 7.8 per 100,000 in counties that voted heavily for Biden, according to the data analysis from the Times.”


    3. oh Joe B. there would be nothing better on this planet than democrats making up their own country. it would be fun to watch it fail miserably. I doubt it could exist for more than 20 years.

    4. Yes, because the Republican country in which no one paid any taxes but wanted all the trappings of society would last all that much longer.

  5. I love how the IBJ is so misleading with information in these articles. There are 16,000 staffed hospital beds in Indiana…so using 20% of the beds for an infectious disease is complete panic….Funny how news sources leave out alot of facts.

  6. The amount of misinformation in this line of responses explains the current emergency. I’m with Joe and Derek. The only thing I would add is “let them die”. When the variant reaches Marburg lethality maybe that will get your attention.

  7. Omicron virus has little to no deaths/ hospitalizations. It is highly contagious but not deadly. In the old days we called it a cold. As to vaccination efficacy it should be obvious that it is not very effective. The evidence speaks for itself so lets remove the demonization of the ‘unvaccinated’. Herd immunity is the best and only permanent protection from Covid 19. Pfizer vac wears off in 201 days while Moderna only 121 days. Hence the constant play for unending boosters. I fear Mass Psychosis has set into the populace and only facts and return to our day to day life will get us back to normal. We must not cede our basic freedoms or they may not return

    1. Most of the people currently sick or dying of COVID recently were infected with the Delta variant. If one has been fully vaccinated and has received the booster dose, then Omicron is more likely to result in mild to moderate symptoms and not lead to hospitalizations. The concern is for those who have not chosen to be vaccinated or have compromised immune systems, it is unknown how their immune systems will fend off the Omicron variant.

      Regarding hospital capacity: according to a IU Health pulmonologist, normal statewide capacity of hospital beds is approximately 10,000. The state mobilized to increase bed capacity by converting closed units or otherwise utilized space into bed space to accommodate the increased numbers of sick people at the start of the pandemic. This creates more beds that require more nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists than hospitals had previously hired. They have been taking care of more people constantly on a daily basis since the pandemic began and they are exhausted. Do you want your father to die of a heart attack because there weren’t enough healthcare personnel to take care of them?

      This is Christmas time, folks, as well as other sacred traditions for Hoosiers. Please practice kindness and civility.

    2. Most of the people currently sick or dying of COVID recently were infected with the Delta variant. If one has been fully vaccinated and has received the booster dose, then Omicron is more likely to result in mild to moderate symptoms and not lead to hospitalizations. The concern is for those who have not chosen to be vaccinated or have compromised immune systems, it is unknown how their immune systems will fend off the Omicron variant.

      Regarding hospital capacity: according to a IU Health pulmonologist, normal statewide capacity of hospital beds