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FORT COLLINS — A group of military medical professionals will work alongside staff from UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital for the next month to help fill gaps in staffing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to information in a press statement, UCHealth said a Department of Defense team of approximately 20 nurses, providers, respiratory therapists and administrators will be deployed to Poudre Valley in Fort Collins for approximately a month. The team will support hospital staff and patients and ease capacity and staffing challenges.

“We are so grateful that this team will assist us in providing exceptional care in Northern Colorado,” Kevin Unger, the president and chief executive officer at PVH and UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, said in the statement. “We anticipate this additional support and other plans we already have in the works will help make a significant difference.”

The additional support was made possible by FEMA after a request from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the state of Colorado.

As of Thursday, UCHealth is caring for 373 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across the state. This is the highest number the health system has seen this year. Approximately 140 of those patients require intensive care. Approximately 100 of the total number of patients are being cared for at UCHealth’s hospitals in Northern Colorado, including PVH, UCHealth said in the statement.

Of the 373 hospitalized patients, 302 aren’t vaccinated, according to UCHealth. Of 141 ICU cases, 123 aren’t vaccinated. Similarly, 101 of 113 COVID-19 patients on ventilators across the UCHealth system aren’t vaccinated.

“Our providers and staff have been working long, hard days and nights for more than 20 months now. They are weary but continue to show up every day to serve our community with pride,” Unger said. “They will appreciate the support.”

The deployment will augment staffing at PVH and free up staff to help at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland and UCHealth Greeley Hospital.

Weld County has just five hospital beds and no ICU beds available, according to data published Friday by the county health department. More than 1 in 4 patients in county hospital beds have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The seven-day average percent of Weld County hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients hit a peak this past week not seen since late April 2020.

“We know the individuals on this medical response team will be spending the holidays away from their families, friends and homes to help us care for our community,” Unger said. “We thank them for their service and their sacrifice.”

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