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Alice Hyde Thanks Departing National Guard Team

After about three months of providing non-direct care services at The Alice Center as part of New York State’s push to bolster staffing at long-term care facilities during the omicron wave of COVID-19, a team of National Guard troops departed the facility on Tuesday, as the state-led partnership concludes.

Susan Biondolillo, AVP of Long-Term Care at UVM Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center, which owns and operates The Alice Center, said the facility welcomed a four-person National Guard team in February of 2022. The National Guardsmen have spent the last three months assisting The Alice Center’s team with tasks such as welcoming and screening visitors, dietary work, administrative tasks, and assisting the facility’s activities team.

“Like facilities across New York and the country, we are incredibly grateful for the support of our National Guard partners,” said Biondolillo. “Not only have they been kind, courteous and compassionate throughout their time with us, they provided us with support at a time when staffing shortages and an unpredictable COVID variant were combining to create challenges for every member of our long-term care team.”

In late 2021, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed 60 National Guard Medical Teams to long-term care facilities across the state, to provide clinical services to facilities struggling amid a nationwide health care staffing crisis. In January of 2022 the state deployed additional, non-medically-trained teams, in an expansion of the initiative. That program, which is federally-funded, was initially set to end March 31 before being extended to May 31.

“Having them here has been great,” said Valerie Lester, Director of Nursing at The Alice Center, of the National Guard team’s impact at the facility. “They’ve done everything from scrub pots and fill water pitchers to interact with our residents and welcome friends and family who have come for a visit. It’s been nice to have them, and we hope they know just how thankful we are for the support they’ve given our staff, and the kindness they show everyone each day.”

As the partnership concludes, Biondolillo said that the National Guard team’s departure will not impact operations or programs at The Alice Center.

“Our employees will continue to do what they do best – deliver great, compassionate care to our residents, and work together as we continue to adapt to what continues to be an unpredictable public health emergency,” she said.