ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — By Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Emergency Declaration will go into effect, including the deployment of 120 National Guard members throughout the state, some of whom will be in Monroe County.

This is in response to the coronavirus pandemic backing up local healthcare systems to the point staff cannot keep up.  

It’s time to call in the troops. By answering Monroe County Executive Adam Bello’s state of emergency declaration, the New York National Guard is sending 26 members who will split up into two-person teams, mostly to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  

The news of senior care centers needing military emergency technicians to step in came as a surprise to local activists for the elderly. But they’re glad to see support coming in to guarantee residents get all the proper care they need.  
“That would never have entered my mind, but we’ve seen a lot in the last two years,” Elder Justice Committee of Metro Justice Chairperson Mary Wypych said. “And heard of the chronic staffing shortages. I’m glad Governor Kathy Hochul has stepped up to help out hospitals and nursing homes.”  

Because local nursing homes are low on staff, many have not accepted new residents. Leaving a lot of non-COVID elderly patients stuck in the hospital after their treatments — taking up bed space COVID patients desperately need. With help from National Guard medics, that can all change.  

“Every pair of boots on the ground is going to make a positive impact,” Col. Richard Goldenberg of the New York National Guard told us. “No matter what the facility might need and that’s why we’re going to defer to the individual facilities. What their needs might be? We’re prepared to work with the department of health to resource that to the best of our abilities.”  

All guardsmen and women coming in are fully certified Emergency Medical Technicians with experience treating wounded soldiers in combat. A wide variety of skills their leaders are confident will carry over into taking care of the elderly.  

“They’re used to being flexible and meeting the needs of what’s in front of them,” Col. Goldenberg continued. “So that’s what we actually bring is that assistance to facilities that are going to be incorporated into the daily routine of whatever facility they work for.”  

The Governor did not rule out sending in more National Guard troops out if demand continues to grow. Most of these Guardsmen and women will be local so they are familiar with the community and able to go home after each shift. There is no set timeline for how long this could go on.