Mansfield, OH,
16:19 PM

Mansfield News Journal: National Guard Helping at OhioHealth Mansfield During COVID Surge

OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital became the first hospital within OhioHealth to receive support from the Ohio National Guard. The hospital first received 10 members on December 30 and has since received another 30 members in January. Most National Guard members at Mansfield Hospital are from the 179th Airlift Wing or 200th RED HORSE Squadron Detachment 1, which are both based at the Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base.

In addition to the 40 members of the National Guard assisting Mansfield Hospital, there have been close to 70 clinical and non-clinical associates, who have picked up shifts in clinical departments, supported the vaccine clinics, or helped support services. With more than 100 combined sets of hands deployed from National Guard members and OhioHealth associates at Mansfield Hospital, an OhioHealth spokesperson shared her gratefulness with the Mansfield News Journal, “We are so thankful and appreciative for all of the help we are receiving.”

Three National Guard members spoke about their experiences to the Mansfield News Journal. Airmen First Class Brycen Burkhalter, of the 179th Airlift Wing, normally works on aircraft maintenance. During a recent overnight shift, he worked closely with his brother, Brevyn Burkhalter, an OhioHealth PSA and nursing student. Their mom, Brooke Burkhalter, a senior systems analyst with OhioHealth, never anticipated that her sons would be working together in healthcare.

Brycen told the Mansfield News Journal that he has been helping PSAs with patients and the experience has brought the brothers closer together. “We’ve really connected outside of it more than we ever have before. It’s been a great opportunity for us both. I get to step in his world and see what he likes to do. It makes me really appreciate it,” Brycen said to the Mansfield News Journal.

Most National Guard members at Mansfield Hospital are serving as safety aides or non-clinical extenders. In these roles, they may sit with one-on-one with a patient, who may be confused or require additional safety assistance. The members also may stock supplies in departments, help as a runner between departments or help in other service areas.

Senior Master Sargent Garth Eldridge, also of the 179th Airlift Wing, has 28 years with the National Guard and was born and raised in Mansfield. He told the Mansfield News Journal, “We’ve had nothing but good feedback from the top down, the nursing staff,” and added, “We’re thrilled really to be able to offer something to our local communities. A lot of times, you see us going overseas and doing our part with that effort. It’s nice to help out in your own community.”

Another member of the 179th Airlift Wing, First Class Elizabeth Pounds, shared with the Mansfield News Journal that the experience has been “eye-opening.” Pounds’ mother Christa Harris, nursing manager of Mansfield Hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation, couldn’t be prouder of her daughter, who was also deployed to help at Columbus food banks in 2021.

Coincidentally, Stephen Markovich, MD, president and chief executive officer of OhioHealth, retired as a Major General and Commander of Ohio’s 5,000-member Air National Guard in 2018.

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