Gov. Jim Justice has directed his Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) and his COVID-19 pandemic leadership team to review and approve requests from West Virginia hospitals for additional staffing support.

Staffing support is to be provided by the West Virginia National Guard. Requests will be coordinated by the JIATF to assign available Guard resources.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, I have been committed to protecting our hospital systems, which are already struggling with staffing shortages due to the current COVID-19 surge,” Gov. Justice said. “We must keep our hospitals operating fully. I firmly believe that by reassigning our valued Guard members to this mission, West Virginia’s hospitals can get back up to capacity to care for our residents.”

When a hospital sees the need for extra staffing assistance due to a COVID surge, a request by hospital leadership to its local emergency manager will be relayed to the JIATF, which will work with its many partners for coordination. The staffing relief process was developed by the JIATF, reviewed by pandemic leadership, and approved by the Governor.

“The West Virginia National Guard is fully prepared to assist our hospital partners who have been at the frontline of this pandemic,” stated Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the Adjutant General of the WVNG. “A team of liaison officers and representatives from our JIATF have been conducting assessments today with our hospitals that are in need. The National Guard is ready, as always, to support the State of West Virginia at the Governor’s direction.”

Two requests have been received thus far: Charleston Area Medical Center and Grafton City Hospital. The JIATF will be working with these hospitals to offer assistance.