State Senate GOP Lawmakers Urge Inslee to Mobilize National Guard for Hospitals


Eleven state Senate Republican leaders signed on to a letter Wednesday asking Gov. Jay Inslee to mobilize the National Guard to support hospitals overwhelmed by the COVID-19 delta variant.

The letter was signed by lawmakers including Senate Minority Leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.

In the letter, Republican lawmakers also called on Inslee to utilize state coronavirus stimulus dollars to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to nursing facilities and issue an executive order allowing all retired military medical personnel living in the state to return to practice to provide “relief to our overburdened hospital system and our dedicated health care workers.”

“With case counts and hospitalizations at a high mark during the pandemic, we commend you for requesting assistance from the federal government to assist our Washington hospitals struggling with staffing shortages and stretched capacity,” the letter read. “In addition to that effort, we urge you to take additional action outlined in this letter to help relieve our strained hospital system.”

Rural hospitals across the state have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients afflicted by the delta variant, as Washington state undergoes a fifth wave of the viral disease. More than 37,500 Washingtonians have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic roughly 19 months ago.

Arbor Health and Providence have both reported a recent easing of hospitalizations, though they cautioned it’s too early to tell if that will be sustained.

According to Senate Republicans, National Guard members should be deployed to step in to assist overwhelmed hospital staff with “nonmedical duties.” Some should also be able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to relieve staff to care for patients.

“To the extent possible, medically trained National Guard staff should also be deployed to help provide relief and support to our overworked and exhausted medical and nursing workforce,” Senate Republicans wrote.

Increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to nursing facilities will also “free up critical beds that can be used to care for more patients across the state,” Republicans say, noting that the current rate is so low that the facilities are unable to accept patients discharged from hospitals, creating a backlog.

As of early Friday morning, it’s not known if Inslee’s office responded to Senate Republicans’ letter.


2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Check the math

If only state GOP lawmakers would urge their constituents to prevent the spread of the virus by masking and getting vaccinated our hospitals would not be overwhelmed. Providence Centralia is only doing emergency care--no colonoscopies, no non-emergency surgeries, etc because it is full of covid patients and understaffed. Meanwhile our representatives are out campaigning against basic public health mitigation efforts. And county officials block our hospital from accessing emergency covid funding grants from the state. Rural hospitals are overwhelmed because rural vaccination rates are significantly lower than elsewhere.

Saturday, October 9
LL Hauer

Check the Math – while I agree with the points you make, it’s important to note that at least these local senators acknowledge and are looking for solutions to keep our WA health care system from being crushed under the weight of continued covid cases. At least they are speaking up when pretty much all of their GOP colleagues have stuck their fingers in their ears and are madly humming to avoid the fact that this country’s poor response to controlling covid is killing the health care sector, which accounts for 17% of GDP. Kudos to these state senators for trying to take steps to keep our health care workers and the entire health care system from being destroyed.

Monday, October 11