Air Force medical teams deployed to Strong Memorial

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As part of a federal effort to support local hospitals facing strains and staff shortages, two U.S. Air Force medical teams have been deployed to Strong Memorial Hospital, UR Medicine officials announced today. 

The military medical teams arrived in Rochester over the weekend. Hospital officials say they are currently being trained in local procedures and are expected to begin actively assisting Strong Memorial medical staff by midweek. 

The locally dispatched military medical teams are part of a wider federal effort to relieve overburdened medical staff straining to keep up with Omicron variant COVID-19 cases at key hospitals.

Over the last two weeks, new daily COVID cases in Monroe County have fallen sharply, while hospitalizations and deaths also have trended downward. 

The two military medical teams at Strong Memorial include doctors, medical-surgical nurses, respiratory therapists, medical technicians, and support staff. Approximately 40 individuals make up the Rochester deployment. 

Similar military medical teams were previously dispatched to SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, Coney Island Hospital and a Bronx hospital in New York City. 

“These critical resources will build on our ongoing winter surge plan efforts to assist our overstressed hospitals so they can maintain patient care, and relieve some of our exhausted medical staff and emergency responders,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement announcing the deployments last month. 

Hochul has asked the federal government to extend the Erie County Medical Center team’s stay for an additional 30 days past the team’s scheduled March 10 end date. 

According to a Feb. 11 Defense Department statement, similar deployments are planned for hospitals in Massachusetts, Arizona and Maine. 

“We are deeply grateful as a medical center and as a community to FEMA, the Defense Department, and the members of the Air Force medical teams who have traveled from across the country, leaving their families behind, to provide vital support to Strong Memorial Hospital in this time of need,” said URMC CEO Mark Taubman M.D. in a statement  “Their arrival is an incredible morale boost to our staff and we look forward to welcoming them as members of the UR Medicine family and thank them for their service and sacrifice.” 

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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