Wyoming National Guard Deployed in Hospitals Until April
Since November 2021, members of the Wyoming National Guard have been deployed at hospitals around the state to assist with testing people for COVID-19.
The deployments of guard members were done to shore up hospitals across the state that have been facing increased staffing shortages.
Lynn Budd, Director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, said that an initial deployment ran from September 2021 until December, with up to 100 National Guard members working at hospitals across the state.
Since January, and running until April, Budd said that number has been reduced to 21, nine in Casper, 10 in Cheyenne, and two in Jackson.
The National Guard in Wyoming and across the country is able to deploy due to funding provided by the federal government through Title 32, which currently will run until the beginning of April.
Budd said they are processing requests for a few other facilities across the state, but didn't want to specify where.
As of Dec. 7, 18,000 guard members have been deployed across the country, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency obligating $2.7 billion for the mission.
All members of the Wyoming National Guard are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Private First Class Holly Haselhuhn said that she had been deployed twice, once at Star Valley Health in Afton and another at Mesa Primary Care in Casper, where she helped test people for COVID-19, typically working 12 hour days Monday through Thursday.
Haselhuhn said she has been able to get a handle on what they are needed to do and appreciates how welcoming the staff in Casper have been.
"The staff here has been extremely welcoming and they've been more than helpful in helping us get used to the environment here," Haselhuhn said "It's been very easy to adjust. It's not much different than any job in any other medical field, you go by the rules, you do everything you're supposed to do and just we always have the opportunity to ask for help from anyone here, they're always willing."
Since being deployed to Casper in January, Haselhuhn said that they get roughly 50 to 60 people a day who come in for testing.
Haselhuhn said that she was sent to Casper to handle the "sudden influx of COVID-19 patients," as Star Valley Health wasn't getting as many patients.
COVID-19 patients at the Wyoming Medical Center, where a majority of Natrona County residents go if they get COVID-19, has fluctuated over the past several months.
According to self-reported data from the Wyoming Department of Health, on Oct. 19, the county saw the most amount of COVID-19 patients at 68, before dropping to 31 on Nov. 19, 23 on Dec. 19, and the lowest since July 2021 of seven patients on Jan. 2 and 3.
However, that number increased to a high of 56 on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 but has since decreased down to 39 on Feb. 8.