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County employees could work at hospital burdened by COVID-19

September 12, 2021 GMT

CALHOUN, Ga. (AP) — A northwest Georgia county is negotiating an agreement for its employees to work extra at the local hospital, which is over capacity because of COVID-19 patients.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Gordon County commissioners are near a deal to let county employees assist at AdventHealth Gordon when not working for the county. The hospital would pay the employees.

County Administrator Jim Ledbetter said that a number of firefighters and law enforcement personnel are interested. People who volunteer to work extra hours must be vaccinated before their first shifts.

“With the hospital being licensed for 69 patients and having more than 100, the labor force is stretched pretty thin and staff are pretty tired,” Ledbetter said. “The hospital came to us for help and we decided to do what we can,” Ledbetter said.

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Ledbetter said the county will require employees have at least 12 hours’ rest between their county shifts and hospital work. He said hospital doctors and nurses will supervise county employees. He said duties might include stocking supplies and making sure people are wearing masks before coming in.

“They would help with security. People’s nerves have been frayed with the pandemic and they don’t always want to mask. Some people have been getting testy about that, so that’s something our police could help with that would take a lot of stress off hospital staff,” Ledbetter said.

On Thursday, 114 patients were hospitalized at AdventHealth Gordon. Of those, 61 were COVID-positive, 24 were in critical condition and 18 were on ventilators. Fifteen patients, he said, were in the emergency room waiting to be moved into private rooms.

About 32% of Gordon County residents were fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the Department of Public Health, and 38% had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The percentage of fully vaccinated residents statewide is 45%.