PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island has been hit hard by the omicron surge, but cases are starting to decline.

Rhode Island Hospital President Saul Weingart said they have seen an 800% increase in patients compared to early November, which has challenged their ability to staff beds.

“We were fortunate to be selected by the federal government,” Weingart added.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced that teams of military doctors, nurses and other medical professionals would be deployed to Rhode Island and five other states in need.

A group of 23 medical workers arrived at Rhode Island Hospital late last week and began working on Saturday.

“This 30-day mission is incredibly important to us because we are just past the peak in the surge and our numbers are beginning to decline, so this is exactly the right time our staff needed the help,” Weingart explained.

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Lt. Col. Edgardo Ramirez said their personnel consists of emergency care physicians, intensive care providers, critical care nurses and emergency room nurses.

“We are in this together and we will do everything that we can to assist the local community and assist the team here at Rhode Island to do the best that we can,” Ramirez said.

Weingart said the newcomers are working side by side with hospital staff in the intensive care unit, medical/ surgery unit and emergency department. Most of the staff are on the respiratory intensive care unit where many COVID patients are, along with other patients with respiratory illnesses.

The military medical workers are also helping non-COVID patients as well, according to Army Captain Nicholas Law. He said they have just been thankful to be there and are motivated to work with the hospital staff.

“We have a ‘one team, one fight mentality’ and we are going to tackle the pandemic with the team together,” Ramirez said.

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Due to the help, R.I. Hospital has been able to expand its ICU capacity by several beds. The hospital was also down to about seven operating rooms, but over the past week, it’s been able to get up to 11 rooms out of a total of around 30.

Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Dean Roye said that in order to get back to comfortable staffing they need to work on their pipeline. They have had chronic staffing issues before surge, and it’s a national problem.

“We’ve run somewhere between 25-35% staff shortages,” Roye said. “Things are improving slightly, and we’re hoping that they continue to do that, but it’s going to take a pipeline to get to the bottom.”

R.I. Chief COVID Administrator Marc Pappas told a government oversight committee this week that the state is already working on a possible extension that would keep them here even longer than 30 days if needed.

Fourteen medical workers also went to Kent Hospital in Warwick.