Kent County, Mich. - Much needed medical supplies have been coming to a warehouse in Michigan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The supplies, commonly called personal protective equipment (PPE) have been dispatched from the national stockpile to Michigan for distribution to medical facilities throughout the state. To fulfill the distribution need of PPE, one healthcare coalition has reached out to the Michigan National Guard.
“There is a lot of equipment that has been shipped in,” said Dr. Jerry Evans, medical director for Region 6 Healthcare Coalition and West Michigan Regional Medical Consortium. “We need to break that down, divide it up, and get it to the appropriate places at the appropriate times.”
Because of the high demand and large amount of PPE, the coalition acknowledged the importance of having the Guard there to help.
“The National Guard is a critical element in this because we need logistical help,” said Evans. “We have so much equipment coming in, such as masks, gowns, and a lot of other supplies being sent to us by the federal government through the state and through the strategic national stockpile.”
The four members of the Michigan Guard are seeing and experiencing first-hand the amount of PPE that is being delivered from federal agencies for local distribution.
“More than 2400 hundred face shields just came in that have to be broken down,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Schrot, 1st Battalion, 125th Regiment, 63rd Troop Brigade, Michigan Army National Guard. “There’s a lot of gloves, face shields, surgical masks, M-95 masks, gowns, Tyvek suites, and hand sanitizers that need to be distributed throughout the medical community.”
The coalition has the responsibility to distribute the PPE within the region that services a variety of healthcare facilities and large population.
“In our region, we have 13 counties with a total population of 1.4 million people,” said Evans, adding that, “we have 13 counties, 22 acute care hospitals, 2 free-standing medical departments, 2 psychiatric hospitals, a number of rehab hospitals, plus 63 nursing homes where we try to help as much as we can in providing equipment, PPE, and other things that they need.”
Although the Guard’s primary mission is to work in the warehouse, they have had an opportunity to deliver equipment directly to who needs it and see the impact their mission has.
“One of our Soldiers made a delivery to a smaller nursing facility and he was greeted by 15-20 staff members that were in tears because he showed up with this PPE they needed,” said Schrot. “That really opened my eyes to what’s really going on out there.”
As the Guard assists the healthcare coalition, the two organizations have thrived on one-another, building a strong professional relationship.
“This is a great partnership between the National Guard and the Regions,” said Evans. “This is an opportunity for the Guard to come in and really help us and meet a lot of the needs that we have not been able to meet on our own.”
“It’s an incredible partnership. We’re grateful for it and want to thank everybody in the guard for doing what they do,” he said