Navy has ‘all-hands’ situation at Christian Hospital in St. Louis County

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The presence of a U.S. Navy medical team at Christian Hospital in north St. Louis County is having a ripple effect on healthcare systems in the region.

The Navy began its medical mission last Friday at Christian Hospital and, by all accounts, it’s been a smooth and effective operation.

“We have a group of physicians, we have a group of physician assistants, we have nurses, and we also have respiratory therapists who have seamlessly integrated with hospital staff here at Christian,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Josh Corbridge.

More than 40 Navy medical personnel are working in all areas of the hospital. Christian was selected for federal help because of its large COVID patient load and serious staff shortages.

“The arrival of this team was both a literal improvement because there are more people to take care of patients but it was an enormous psychological boost to Christian,” said Dr. Clay Dunagan, St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.

Corbridge added: “We’re just a small, augmented team that is coming here to help provide assistance, but kudos to the men and women who every day go out and provide patient care throughout the St. Louis area.”

The pandemic task force had hoped to get federal help at 11 regional hospitals but the Navy presence at Christian Hospital is benefiting other health systems.

“It’s enabled us to move personnel to other parts of the system that are also needing care and once again we’ll start to be able to open our capacity to accept transfers, so the arrival has in fact reached well beyond Christian Hospital,” Dunagan said.

Corbridge said it’s not known how long the Navy will be deployed at Christian but it will be all-hands-on-deck for as long as necessary,

“We’re happy to be here and continue to help provide the care not only for COVID patients but we’re treating all patients so, as you know, there’s more stuff going around than just COVID right now,” he said.