Yakima, WA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent 35 nurses and five nursing assistants to help Yakima Valley Memorial (YVM) with their covid-19 patients. 

The nurses arrived at the beginning of November and will stay until the end of March 2022. The chief medical officer for YVM said they've been affected by the staffing shortage a great deal so they reached out to the governor for help.

In response to their plea, FEMA sent help. However, Hospitalist Bismark Fernandez said those nurses are restricted to covid-19 patients so they still have gaps in staffing.

"Even though it does help us to be able to keep up with the patient demand to some degree we still are in a lot of need for nursing staff and other staff too," Dr. Fernandez said.

With the additional help, they were able to redeploy staff they had moved to the covid wing back to their normal jobs. However, they still have around 100 open positions. 

The hospital also shared that the number of covid patients in the hospital is decreasing.

Back in September the hospital saw 50 to 60 covid hospitalizations. Now, they see between 20 and 30 but there is a concern that with the holidays approaching, gatherings will lead to another surge.

CMO Dr. Marty Brueggemann said it is important for the community to do their part and take precautions to avoid straining the hospital's resources again.

"You just need to be aware of the mix of people in the group and if there are unvaccinated then we do encourage masking especially indoor settings where there's small space and not a lot of ventilation," Dr. Brueggemann said.

Other precautions include getting vaccinated and taking a covid-19 test before gathering. Dr. Brueggemann said at home covid tests can be helpful in this situation because you can get your results in a matter of minutes.

Dr. Fernandez said if you don't know how to ask for your guests' vaccination status the best thing you can do is ask directly.

"Your interest is for no one in your household to get sick, especially older family members who may have multiple health concerns," Dr. Fernandez said. "We want to protect every person."