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'It's Been A Big Relief': National Guard Helps Ease Staffing Issues At Brockton Hospital

BROCKTON (CBS) - During a time when hospitals teeter on the edge of maximum capacity and struggle with staffing challenges, the Massachusetts National Guard is settling into its latest mission during the pandemic.

In December of 2021, Governor Charlie Baker announced 500 of the state's National Guard's men and women would be placed in 55 hospitals to assist with non-medical work.

Melissa Killham is a clinical nurse manager with Signature Healthcare. "It's been a big relief honestly," Killham said. Killham points out the challenges hospitals across the area have faced during this most recent surge.

"It's stressful in the way that you know there are people that need care, and they are still in the emergency room because the beds are all full," Killham said.

Hospital staff tell WBZ-TV that capacity challenges continue to plague them

Barbara Malacaria is an associate vice president of nursing at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital. "Every Med-Surg, Critical Care bed has a patient in it, and we have at least 12 or 15 people waiting for a bed," said Malacaria. "So, as soon as someone goes home, somebody new goes in. It's like the mall at Christmas for a parking spot."

The National Guard said it is training its members to work in nearly any non-medical sector of the hospital. Their work includes transporting patients, working security, helping in the kitchen and more.

Staff Sargent Thomas Russo, of Brockton, is leading the team assigned to this hospital. For him, this mission is personal.

"My mother was terminally ill with cancer and got treatment here at Brockton hospital," said Russo. "So, it meant a lot to me to volunteer for this mission."

Russo said every one of the men and women volunteering at the hospital are from Brockton. It's a way for them to give back to their community when they need it most.

"We can definitely see the appreciation and the thanks," Russo said. "We are just happy to be here to volunteer and to help any way that we can."

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