Maryland hospitals to receive COVID-19 assistance from National Guard

Hospitals all over the country are overwhelmed right now, but in Maryland, some are getting much-needed extra help.

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That includes at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, where President and CEO Maulik Joshi said 90 patients have COVID-19, a drive-through testing center sees nearly 1,000 cars every weekday, the E.R. is full, the hospital is full, and just under 100 staff members were out with COVID as of a couple of weeks ago.

"If you lose one or two nurses for a shift, that’s big," explained Joshi. "We make it, we’ve kept going, but it strains the whole system."
Now, 25 members of the Maryland National Guard are helping both inside and outside the hospital with COVID testing, transporting patients, delivering meals, and more.

READ MORE: Montgomery County schools not likely to receive National Guard assistance for bus driver shortage

"Every patient sees people and needs help, and anybody who can help, it’s just a godsend," Joshi said.

Added Platoon Leader Lt. Blake Thacker, "my soldiers … they feel like they’re making an impact and they’re actually helping out."

"One of the reasons I joined the National Guard was to help the community, and one reason that I joined the infantry is because I like a challenge, and one of the big things with infantry is you have to be able to adapt. So yes, I never imagined this, but it’s in the realm of possibilities and the community needs this. So we’re here to help."


Lt. Thacker said the deployment to Meritus is set to run through mid-March.