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US Air Force medical personnel providing support at Cleveland Clinic with COVID cases still high

While COVID cases and hospitalizations are trending downward, there's still a strain on local hospitals.

CLEVELAND — They were brought in on a specific mission: To help in the fight against COVID-19. 

More than a dozen U.S. Air Force medical personnel are currently working alongside a team at Cleveland Clinic. The 20 members arrived at the hospital last week.

"This is certainly different from what we’re used to doing," Lt. Col. Charles Borders, a pulmonologist with the Air Force, said. "But the bottom line is this: The primary mission is to protect the citizens of this country."

'GRATEFUL FOR THEIR SUPPORT': Cleveland Clinic officials thank US Air Force members who have assisted over the past week

Borders is just one of the members working with the Clinic. Among them are four doctors, 14 nurses, and two respiratory therapists. President Joe Biden had announced the extra support for hospitals in six states across the country to provide care to COVID patients, and the move means a chance to catch up.

"If you can imagine, day or night taking care of these patients, [it's] an incredible amount of hours, from out respiratory therapists [and] all of our nurses and physicians," Terri Murray, nursing director of the Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute, noted. "Having this team come in and to take some of that stress off of us has been incredibly optimistic, and gives us optimism that we haven't had in little while."  

While COVID cases and hospitalizations are trending downward, there's still a strain on local hospitals. For Cleveland Clinic, the extra support is a step forward in the fight against COVID. 

The Air Force members are scheduled to work with the hospital for 30 days. In addition, the Ohio Health Department announced last week that FEMA has approved a medical response team to help provide support at Summa Hospital in Akron.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic places approximately 750 employees on unpaid leave for not complying with vaccine mandate