North Dakota will receive approximately 60 U.S. Air Force medical personnel to assist in the state’s COVID-19 response after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted the state’s request for federal assistance, Gov. Doug Burgum announced today.
The personnel, part of a Department of Defense COVID-19 response operation, are primarily nurses, including critical care nurses. They will split up into multiple specialty teams to support at least six hospitals in four cities: Trinity Hospital in Minot, CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck, Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, Essential Health in Fargo, Sanford Medical Center in Fargo and Altru Health System in Grand Forks.
The teams will deploy Saturday and are expected to start work at the hospitals next week in coordination with the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH). The Air Force nurses will join the 167 nurses who are part of the NDDoH COVID Response Team.
“These dedicated Air Force personnel will help relieve the stress on North Dakota’s more than 20,000 nurses who continue to work tirelessly to provide exceptional care for patients under incredibly challenging conditions,” Burgum said. “With hospitals projecting a surge in COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, we’re deeply grateful to the Department of Defense and FEMA for granting our request for additional resources to help save lives and alleviate the immense pressure on North Dakota’s hospitals and long-term care facilities.”
The medical personnel come from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph, Texas; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; and elsewhere.
U.S. Army North (ARNORTH), U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command (JFLCC), will oversee the military operation in support of federal efforts and the state.
“Our actions demonstrate our steadfast commitment to help communities in need as part of the whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic in support of FEMA,” said Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, ARNORTH and JFLCC commander. “North Dakotans can expect the same high-quality care we’ve provided in other cities across the U.S. as we continue to coordinate alongside our local, state, and federal partners to respond to the pandemic and help save lives.”
“We appreciate the support from U.S. Army North and the Department of Defense in filling this FEMA mission assignment in support of the state of North Dakota,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard and director of the state Department of Emergency Services.
The NDDoH also has contracted with a temporary staffing agency to provide an additional 60 nursing staff for hospitals and nursing homes. The nurses will begin arriving as early as this weekend. The response is funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.