Confluence expects 10 National Guard members next week to give pandemic assistance

Washington National Guard members prepare to dispense COVID-19 vaccine at the Town Toyota Center mass vaccination site in Wenatchee.

WENATCHEE — Ten Washington National Guard members are expected to arrive in Wenatchee next week to help local health workers with COVID-19 efforts.

Confluence Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Lake says the Guard membersbe used for non-medical staffing at both the Emerson Street COVID testing site, and the triage center for COVID patients established at Saddlerock Church, 1400 S. Miller St. Right now, the plan is to have the National Guard help with intakes and traffic control as patients arrive at both those sites.

Lake said the Guard members, deployed by Gov. Jay Inslee last week, should arrive late next week “…This will make it possible to reallocate staff to our hospitals and clinics,” Lake said in an email. “Plans will be finalized once the National Guard arrives and we are able to collaborate with their leadership.”

Inslee lordered about 100 National Guard members into non-medical support roles at four Washington health centers, including Confluence. Central Washington Hospital has seen a surge in patients with the omicron variant, and demand for COVID testing in the Wenatchee Valley has exploded in the last two weeks.

The team is expected to remain on hand for four weeks, Confluence public information director Katie Grove said. Confluence separated COVID testing and initial intake from its main hospital and clinics to relieve pressure on its emergency rooms, where potential patients were beginning to strain ER services.

National Guard help “will continue to lessen the pressure on our Emergency Departments, assuring that we are able to provide timely care for those in emergent medical need — such as those who have had a heart attack or car accident victims,” Grove said in an email.

The National Guard has previously been deployed to Wenatchee during the pandemic to administer COVID-19 vaccinations at Town Toyota Center, as well as distribute food to those left without income by business closures.