LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — The Army National Guard returned to help St. Joseph’s Health Hospital once again. There are currently 500 soldiers deployed across 31 hospitals in Kentucky; 15 of them have been allocated to St. Joseph’s Hospital.

With the news of Kentucky reaching one million positive COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, Dr. Lewis Perkins, Chief Nursing Officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital, said they continue to see a steady increase in patients being admitted.

1st. Sgt. Mike Hatfield, Kentucky Army National Guard, said, “I know the last two years have been stressful, and it’s been constantly on their minds even at home. So the fact we get to come in and physically help them, make their jobs easier, let them spend more time with the patients, is rewarding.”

Nurses are turning to the Army National Guard once again to take on some of their many responsibilities

“One thing that’s stood out is that the nurses ask for the same ones to come back. They’ve developed that relationship with them,” Perkins said.

1st. Sgt. Mike Hatfield leads his team of 15 Guard Members assisting Joseph Health Hospital.
(Danielle Miskell)

Returning four months after their last deployment in September, this time around, the National Guard is allowed to be inside the hospital, even in the patient’s rooms.

“They’re seen as heroes actually. We really appreciate the way they kind of jumped in and became part of the family,” Perkins said.

Seven days a week, covering two shifts from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., some of the guard members’ responsibilities include logging charts, sanitizing the hospital, transporting patients, and even nurses, like in last week’s snowstorm.

“We have gone through training with the nurses. they’ve really stepped up and helped us out, and that in turn, helps them out,” Hatfield said.

The guard members are also substituting for members of the technician team out sick with COVID-19.

St. Joseph Hospital faculty feeling relief from the extra helping hands of the Kentucky Army National Guard. (Danielle Miskell)

“They may not be somebody who can provide the same level of care as a nurse, but it’s another helping hand to help them get through this,” Perkins said.

Some soldiers just arrived from western Kentucky helping with tornado relief, but this is a different type of mission.

“These people are having a hard time, not being able to see their families as much, in these conditions. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and be nice,” Hatfield said.

The Command group arrived Wednesday afternoon to check up on the team at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Withers, Kentucky Army Nation Guard, said they came to ask questions like,
“How’s it going? Are you enjoying the mission? How are you being treated?”

After visiting several hospitals from Pulaski County all the way up to Fayette County, Withers said the nurses have repeatedly expressed one request; to send more help.

Governor Andy Beshear’s memorandum states that the Guard members be deployed for thirty days.

Withers said they will have a review on April 1, and that date could potentially be extended for the guard members to stay and help out longer.