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National Guard heading to some western Washington hospitals Tuesday amid 6th wave of pandemic

The National Guard is coming to hospitals' aid Tuesday as staff across the region deal with thousands of COVID-19 patients.

SEATTLE — Local hospitals will welcome some much-needed help from the Army National Guard Tuesday, as staff across the region deal with thousands of COVID-19 patients.

The Washington State Hospital Association reports there are at least 2,300 people who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Washington state.

In some parts of the state, like Pierce County, health officials are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases they have ever seen.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his plan to deploy 100 National Guard members to eight hospitals across the state with staffing issues due to the omicron surge.

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Four hospitals, including UW Medicine/Harborview Medical Center, Multicare Tacoma General Hospital, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia and Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland will have National Guard members on-site to help with COVID-19 testing.

Mark Taylor, a registered nurse and Harborview's associate administrator, said staff need the help and have been using nurses, medical assistants and other staff to run COVID-19 testing. Taylor said these staff members would normally be doing functions within the hospital.

"The staff has been awesome. They've been really incredible, this team that's been able to keep this going as long as they have, but I will tell you it's a really welcome sign of relief to have the National Guard here on site," he said. "This will allow us, at least for a month's time, to have those folks return to the hospital, provide the care that they need either directly with patients or in support of patient care."

Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Yakima Valley Medical Center, Confluence Health/Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital in Spokane will have National Guard members helping with non-medical tasks.

Due to capacity concerns in hospitals, Inslee has also called for a temporary halt to non-urgent medical procedures, as well. 

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