In late October 2020, a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) made up of 30 highly experienced health care professionals—including physicians and nurses—from across the United States arrived at Aspirus Medford Hospital & Clinics to assist in the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the fall, many skilled nursing facilities were unable to accept admissions due to COVID-19 outbreaks and strict state requirements. As a result, patients who no longer needed hospital-level care had nowhere else to go as they recovered from COVID-19 or other conditions, so they stayed in the hospital. This combined with the longer hospital stays many COVID-19 patients needed meant fewer available hospital beds.
To meet this challenge, Aspirus Medford welcomed DMAT support. Thanks to the presence of DMAT members, Aspirus Medford was able to open an extra hospital unit and provide additional supportive services to patients in their homes. The hospital typically staffs between 12-15 hospital beds, but with DMAT, it was able to increase its capacity to staff up to 35. This allowed Aspirus Medford to continue caring for recovering patients while ensuring availability of hospital beds for critically ill patients. It also allowed the hospital to provide support to the rest of the Aspirus Health system. As other Aspirus hospitals filled with patients, some of these patients were transferred to Aspirus Medford to help.
Between late October and early December, five different Disaster Medical Assistance Teams took turns working side by side with Aspirus Medford professionals to care for hospitalized patients.
“[We] feel very fortunate to have been able to have [DMAT] assistance because it not only helped our community, but it helped our larger Aspirus system service area,” said Jessica Faude, Aspirus Medford Hospital inpatient director.