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Dept. of Defense team trained, ready to treat COVID patients at Abbott Northwestern

The 25-member team of of Army doctors, nurses, medics and support staff is now in place to begin helping COVID patients in the Twin Cities.

MINNEAPOLIS — Starting Wednesday, a medical team from the Department of Defense will start treating COVID-19 patients at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

The 25-member team is made up of Army doctors, nurses, medics and support staff.

They arrived last Friday and have been training ever since.

"I know all of our staff, in all walks of our life, feel really grateful and we're so happy to have them here,” Abbott Northwestern Hospital VP of Care Services Carol Koeppel-Olsen says.

"We applied for this help four times. We rewrote our application four times in order to get this. So, it just makes all the difference. We're just so thrilled."

While COVID numbers may be going down at other hospitals and clinics nationwide, Koeppel-Olsen says the numbers have stayed high at Abbott Northwestern.

She says hospital staff are currently providing medical care for 90 COVID patients and 550 other patients at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

She says they have also been dealing with staffing shortages due to COVID-19 as well.

Data provided by Allina Health shows organization-wide they have been down as many as 1,500 staff members in a single day who were either out with COVID or waiting for a test result.

Colonel Robert Corson is the commander of this Department of Defense team.

He's an Army nurse and has been deployed to the Middle East six times.

He says in some ways treating COVID patients here at home will be even more challenging than treating service members overseas.

"The service members are well taken care of. We're well vaccinated, we're healthy, usually younger,” Corson explains.

“But at the same time, we’re working in the heat with a roof over our heads and not a tent in some far away place. So, we have the stamina to get in and help where we can.”

The federal team includes members from Washington state, Washington D.C., Colorado and Texas.

This is the fourth time the Department of Defense has sent a medical team here to Minnesota.

This current deployment will last 30 days, with a possible 30-day extension if cases stay high.

"This is something that we are going to talk about for the rest of our lives. This is something that we are proud to do and to be able to take care of our local nation,” Col. Corson says.

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