By Eric Rosane / For the reflector
Eleven Senate Republican leaders signed a letter Wednesday calling on Governor Jay Inslee to mobilize the National Guard to support hospitals overwhelmed by the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The letter was signed by lawmakers including Senator Ann Rivers, R-La Center, Senator Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, and Senate Minority Leader Senator John Braun, R-Centralia.
In the letter, Republican lawmakers also called on Inslee to use state coronavirus stimulus dollars to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to care facilities and to issue an executive order that allows all retired military doctors living in the state to practice return to “give our help” to the overloaded hospital system and our dedicated health care workers. ”
“Given the high number of cases and hospitalizations during the pandemic, we recommend that you have asked the federal government for assistance in helping our Washington hospitals struggling with staff shortages and overburdened capacities,” the letter reads. “In addition to these efforts, we urge you to take the additional measures described in this letter to relieve our strained hospital system.”
Rural hospitals across the state have been inundated with COVID-19 patients affected by the Delta variant as Washington state experiences a fifth wave of the viral disease. More than 37,500 Washingtoners have been hospitalized since the pandemic began about 19 months ago.
According to Senate Republicans, members of the National Guard should be deployed to assist overburdened hospital staff with “non-medical tasks.” Some are also said to be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations to relieve staff from caring for patients.
“As much as possible, medically trained National Guard personnel should also be deployed to relieve and support our overworked and exhausted medical and nursing staff,” wrote the Senate Republicans.
The increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates to care facilities will also “free up critical beds that can be used to care for more patients across the state,” the letter stated, which states that the current rate is so low that facilities cannot accept patients who have been discharged from hospital hospitals, creating a backlog.
Until October 8, it is unknown whether Inslee’s office has replied to the Senate Republican letter.