Watch CBS News

2 Dozen Members Of Military Begin Serving As Pandemic Reinforcements At Newark's University Hospital

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- University Hospital hosted a welcome ceremony Thursday for 25 military medical support team members who will serve as temporary reinforcements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members from the Department of Defense were greeted with applause, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

READ MOREBiden Sending Military Support To Newark, Coney Island, North Central Bronx Hospitals To Shore Up Staffing

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital, said there was a wave of emotions as the military clinicians walked in to help.

"It was a combination of gratitude and patriotism. These folks are coming at the exact right time," Elnahal said.


The military medical staff will embed with hospital staff for 30 days to deal with the Omicron variant surge of more patients and sick staff members.

"The staffing concerns are real. It's not just our hospital that is impacted by staffing. It's happening all over the country," Dr. Stephanie Bonne said.

READ MORENew Jersey Announces COVID Vaccine And Booster Mandate For Health Care Workers And High-Risk Settings

A mix of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, technicians and more will get to work at University Hospital on Saturday.

"It's more than just physical fatigue; it's a mental fatigue, it's an emotional fatigue. We've been through an unprecedented crisis, a very traumatic experience, and this, what we see happening today with the military coming in, is a shot in the arm. It's an injection of vitality and energy and saying that we're all in this together, that we can get through this together," said Dr. Chris Pernell, University Hospital's chief strategic integration and health equity officer.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced this week that all health care workers in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes will be required to get their COVID booster shot.

"We're gonna give folks a few weeks of a runway to get there. We want to be reasonable about this, but we think it's the right public health step to take," Murphy said.


Some of the hospital's staff members are urging people to do their part, like wear a mask and get their vaccine booster to relieve pressure on the health care system.

"When you are giving your heart, when you're giving your soul, and you're giving the best of you to save lives and prevent devastation, to see others downplay the importance or significance of being safe or how reckless this virus has been, that can hurt and bring frustration. But, overwhelmingly, our staff, we just want people to be well," Pernell said.

She said that's why they got into the business of taking care of people.

Last week, President Joe Biden deployed six teams of military medical personnel to hospitals with critical staffing shortages, including Coney Island Hospital, and North Central Bronx Hospital.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.