National Guard deployed to Genesis


A National Guardsmen is fitted with an M95 mask, which is undergoing testing to ensure it’s properly fitted and sealed.

By Staff Report

Following an explosion in cases of COVID-19 locally, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has deployed National Guard troops to Genesis.

The guardsmen and women will assist with various COVID wrap-around services for the hospital system including the collection of swabs.

Deployments of troops signal to many the severity of the ongoing crisis, which has caused medical staffing shortages nationally, as the pandemic enters its second year in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Muskingum County Health Department announced Wednesday that there are 1,316 active cases of the virus in the local community.

The deployment of the National Guard soldiers was first announced by DeWine in mid-December.

During that press conference, the governor said the decision was made due to both the rates of infection and hospitalizations of COVID-19 throughout the state.

Initially, 1,050 troops, 150 of them highly trained medical personnel, were assigned to the task. That number has since increased to 2,300.

DeWine had previously said that nearly 90 percent of those who are hospitalized from the virus were unvaccinated.

“That’s just the facts,” DeWine said encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, if they hadn’t already. “Earlier in the pandemic our concern was if our hospitals had enough beds, now it’s about personnel.”

In calling up the Guard, DeWine said he worked with military leadership to ensure they weren’t pulling troops, who in their civilian lives worked in a hospital, to just simply be sent to another hospital elsewhere in the state.

According to Kelley Daspit, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Genesis HealthCare System, they found out this week they would be receiving an allotment of 30 soldiers. Previously, they were not set to receive any.

The 30 guardsmen and women assigned to Genesis are not clinical troops, according to Dianna LeVeck, Chief Administrative Officer for Genesis. Instead, they will assist outside the in-patient environment with tasks such as the collection of swabs and the registration of tests.

Soldiers will provide expanded capacity to the hospital system, which is currently testing roughly 400 individuals per day at the HealthPlex adjacent to Walmart.

“It will help keep up with the volume that has just really spiked,” LeVeck explained. “We have had cars wrapped around the building,” referring to the drive-thru testing facility.

Troops deployed to Genesis come from all over the state including Coshocton, Ironton and Columbus.

Soldiers, who first arrived Thursday, will help alleviate the struggle to handle the large influx of cases.

At its worst, some were waiting in line for up to three hours. Daspit said that on Thursday, the average wait time was roughly one hour.

“When we have this bolus of people and then we have this spike, everything just requires more manpower to keep it flowing as rapidly as we can,” explained LeVeck. “That’s where the additional hands are going to be wildly helpful.”

Under their current assignment, the guardsmen will be at Genesis until Friday, February 4.

Many hope, from the governor to medical personnel, that seeing troops deployed to help will show the community how dire the situation has become and combat any remaining belief that the virus isn’t real.

LeVeck said the hospital is just thankful for the extra support which will decrease wait times and allow individuals to get back to life, work and their families quicker.

“We are just so thrilled to have the opportunity to work with these guardsmen and we are very appreciative of their help,” LeVeck added.

Lastly, LeVeck said, they encourage everyone to be as safe as possible.

“Inside the hospital isn’t where we want to meet the members of our community,” LeVeck remarked. “We want them and their families to be healthy.”