Gov. Lee Issues Executive Order To Send National Guard To Hospitals

Dec 4, 2020

Kathryn Ratliff, working at the Nissan Stadium COVID-19 testing site
Credit Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro / TN Guard

As Tennessee healthcare facilities continue to battle understaffing, the state says it will activate the National Guard to step into the gap as hospital nurses, ambulance drivers and COVID testers.

Gov. Bill Lee issued his executive order in response to the worsening surge that’s overwhelming testing sites and hospitals in the state. There are 155 ICU beds available statewide, and emergency facilities like Nashville General Hospital have not had the staff to man additional COVID beds.

Lee’s executive order also suspends several industry regulations. Healthcare facilities are no longer required to have a certificate of need to increase their number of beds. Medical professionals can perform tasks outside their licensed scope of practice when treating COVID-19 patients anywhere in the hospital, not just in the emergency room.

Medical assistants, who have less training than nurses, can now take on some of their duties with supervision. And, ambulances can operate with less staff.

Though the order declares a continuing state of emergency and major disaster in Tennessee, Lee has still not issued a statewide mask mandate, despite the White House once again recommending the step this week.