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Hospital volunteers sought as facilities face growing COVID-19 staffing shortages

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Posted at 9:38 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 13:04:50-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee has issued a new call for volunteers to help out in area hospitals as they deal with the growing strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call, which went out Monday to individuals enrolled in the Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps, was described as a "non-emergency alert for Tennessee medical volunteers," according to a voicemail recording provided to NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages," the message said.

"If you are interested or are available to potentially help a hospital with staffing needs, please email todd.baker@nashville.gov by 12 p.m. Tuesday, November 24th, 2020.

"There is a potential need for both medical and non-medical individuals. If you are available to help, your contact information will be shared with hospitals in need."

Individuals interested in serving in the Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps can sign up through the Tennessee Department of Health's Volunteer Mobilizer.

The latest overnight numbers reveal that Tennessee continues to set nearly daily records for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 2,116 people how in Tennessee hospitals with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

That's up more than 44% since the first of the month.

TN Covid Hospitalizations 11 24 2020.png

In addition to the 2,116 confirmed cases, there are another 252 people hospitalized with possible cases of the virus, awaiting confirmation.

The latest numbers posted on the Tennessee Department of Health's website reveal that Tennessee is once again down to just 10% of its intensive care unit capacity.

Right now, there are just 214 ICU beds remaining open for the entire state.

Even that number, hospital officials say, may be misleading since some facilities have open beds, but not enough trained personnel to staff them.

In Davidson County, area hospitals have just 15% availability for hospital beds and 9% of ICU availability, the mayor's office reported on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for TriStar Centennial Medical Center said the hospital currently has the staffing needed to continue operations and hospital leaders are closely monitoring the situation.

TriStar Centennial Medical Center has the bed capacity, staffing, supplies and equipment needed at this time to continue caring for the Nashville community. Our hospital leaders are continually monitoring the situation closely and continue to plan by assessing resources, support and best practices across TriStar Health and our parent company, HCA Healthcare, to ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the community. In addition, we would welcome volunteers from the Tennessee Medical Reserve Corp if they wish to assist hospitals during this time of increased patient volumes. We encourage residents of Middle Tennessee to wear a face mask, wash their hands, and social distance to help slow the spread of the virus.

November is already the worst month of the pandemic in Tennessee, both in terms of new cases and new reported deaths.