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Porter lab gets help from National Guard medics

Vermont National Guard Sgt. William Glen, left, and Pfc. Jeffrey Perez (sitting) are helping relieve a staff shortage or the Porter Medical Center lab for a couple weeks. UVM Health Network Pathology physician Dr. Jason Brazelton, right, said he appreciated their presence.

MIDDLEBURY — Two Vermont National Guard combat medics are helping Porter Medical Center get through a period of pandemic-related staffing shortages.

Pfc. Jeffery Perez and Sgt. William Glen began working at the Middlebury hospital’s laboratory this past Monday, Jan. 31, and will continue doing so through Feb. 18.

Pfc. Jeffrey Perez, left, and Sgt. William Glen, both Vermont National Guard combat medics, work together at the Porter Medical Center lab processing COVID-19 and other tests.

Last week, the Porter lab had to reduce its hours due to staffing shortages from both workforce pressures and absences related to COVID-19. The volume of COVID PCR tests at the hospital reached over 200 tests per day throughout much of January, in addition to blood draws and the other services the laboratory provides. Christopher Morris, Porter director of communications and engagement, noted that the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant inflated the number of tests the lab had to conduct.

The two soldiers are helping Porter restore its lab hours back to normal until new phlebotomists and lab assistants are in place by the end of February.

Dr. Jason Brazelton, a UVM Health Network Pathology physician, welcomed the extra sets of hands, saying the laboratory staff is an essential part of the patient care team at Porter Medical Center.

“Their continued hard work and dedication to our patients, combined with this much appreciated support from the National Guard, helps ensure we fulfill our goal to provide accessible care to our community in Addison County,” Brazelton said.

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