U.S. Navy staffing Bellin hospital amid COVID crisis


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)- The Department of Defense has deployed Navy personnel to Bellin Hospital in Green Bay to assist with staffing as COVID-19 cases dominate the medical field.

“We, like our other health systems across the state of Wisconsin, have had many occasions where we had to be in a status called diversion,” said Chris Woleske, President and CEO of Bellin.

Woleske says there have been instances where they had to turn patients away. “In November we turned away approximately 300 patients from other places in the state, as well as other places in the nation,” said Woleske.

A joint task force has been created to help hospitals around the country that are in crisis mode with the ongoing pandemic. “We have humanitarian roles, we do them all the time actually,” said Captain John Callahan U.S. Navy.

Callahan says doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel have been activated to help. “Twenty of the deployed are doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists, and three are in leadership roles,” said Callahan.

Wisconsin is one of 15 states to get assistance from the Navy. So far, Bellin is the only hospital in Northeast Wisconsin to get this specific kind of help.

You might remember at the height of the pandemic, National Guard troops were deployed to assist at COVID-19 testing centers.

“Governor Tony Evers’ office and the Wisconsin Department of Health actually opened this door for us with FEMA to be able to make a case for some assistance,” said Woleske.

Dr. Brad Burmeister is an Emergency Room Physician at Bellin and has been on the front lines of the pandemic. “For at least several weeks now, we’ve been operating at a very high level of patients, who are seeking care in our facilities across our region. We have two resources that can get constrained, number one is staffing and number two is space,” said Burmeister.

The Navy will be on site for 30-days. If there is still a need for assistance, a request can be made for extended help.

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