by Dina Kupfer

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of healthcare all across the nation. In San Joaquin County, which is now considered a hotspot, help has arrived from the Department of Defense.

Like many hospitals across the state, Adventist Health Lodi Memorial in San Joaquin County is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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Daniel Wolcott, President of Lodi Memorial, says the hospital didn’t have enough staff to support the number of patients coming in, even though they did have the bed capacity.

“We are running 150% capacity in our ICU right now and we probably wouldn’t be able to handle that without the additional ICU nurses that have come from the DOD team,” Wolcott said.

A medical support team from Travis Air Force Base was called in at the request of FEMA and the DOD. Major Alisha Florence is the officer in charge of the Lodi Memorial team, which has integrated thoroughly with the med surge unit and the ICU.

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“The team’s current role is to come into the hospital and provide additional support in any area the hospital deems necessary,” Florence said.

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The team consists of three doctors, one physician assistant, 11 nurses, two respiratory techs, two ICU techs, and two administrators.

“They are working hand-in-hand and right beside the doctors and nurses as they take care of all of our patients,” Florence said.

Major Florence says while it’s hard work and long hours, the military has provided the emotional, physical and mental support her team needs. There is enough PPE for her team to feel safe, she says, despite the inherent risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

“For us, it’s important to go out and support our local community,” she said.

It’s a unique call to service that has already proven to be beneficial for not only the community of San Joaquin County, but our military members turned frontline healthcare workers, as well.

“We will take back things that we’ve learned to Travis AFB, and hopefully we’ve brought new things to this hospital as well,” Florence said.

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Major Florence said her team will be assisting the doctors and nurses at Lodi Memorial as long as they are needed.