CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia hospitals facing staffing issues can now request assistance from the West Virginia National Guard.

Gov. Jim Justice has assigned his Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) and his COVID-19 pandemic leadership team to review and approve requests from hospitals across WV for staffing support. Support will be supplied by the WV National Guard.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, I have been committed to protecting our hospital systems, which are already struggling with staffing shortages due to the current COVID-19 surge,” Gov. Justice said. “We must keep our hospitals operating fully. I firmly believe that by reassigning our valued Guard members to this mission, West Virginia’s hospitals can get back up to capacity to care for our residents.”

When a hospital sees the need for assistance due to a coronavirus case surge, hospital leadership can request the need for extra staffing to its local emergency manager. The request will then be sent to the JIATF for approval.

“The West Virginia National Guard is fully prepared to assist our hospital partners who have been at the frontline of this pandemic,” stated Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the Adjutant General of the WVNG. “A team of liaison officers and representatives from our JIATF have been conducting assessments today with our hospitals that are in need. The National Guard is ready, as always, to support the State of West Virginia at the Governor’s direction.”

Two requests have already been received from Charleston Area Medical Center and Grafton City Hospital. The JIATF will work with these hospitals to evaluate their staffing support issues.