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U.S. Public Health Service Corps Allies with North Oaks in Response to COVID-19 Surge

U.S. Public Health Service Corps Allies with North Oaks in Response to COVID-19 Surge

A health and medical task force from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHS) has arrived at North Oaks Medical Center as welcome reinforcements to assist in the hospital’s response to surging cases of COVID-19.

On Aug. 10, North Oaks officials greeted the 15-member task force, comprised of three physicians, one nurse practitioner, one physician assistant, seven nurses, a safety officer, force protection officer and a commander. Following two days of orientation, the task force is scheduled to begin assisting with patient care on Friday, Aug. 13, and will remain deployed through Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Surging COVID-19 cases in the face of staffing shortages on the local, state and national levels prompted North Oaks officials to request federal assistance in the form of manpower through the state of Louisiana. In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deployed a team of PHS commissioned health officers to North Oaks Medical Center to help safely care for patients with COVID-19.

Lt. Commander Anthony Valloric leads HHS’ Health and Medical Task Force at North Oaks and is team commander for the U.S. Public Health Service COVID-19 Louisiana Response. In thanking North Oaks officials for the warm welcome received Aug. 10, Valloric asserts, “North Oaks Medical Center has been pushed to the limit with the recent surge of COVID-19 patients. My team is glad we are here to provide some much needed relief from the immense pressures hospital staff are facing during this most recent wave. We look forward to utilizing our unique skillsets to make a measurable impact on the lives of the people in this community.”

“We are beyond grateful to have the support of PHS in a shared mission of improving lives. They will help us extend our ability to care for the overload of COVID-19 patients we have at this time and relieve some of the pressure on our staff, who have worked tirelessly for nearly 18 months on the frontlines of the pandemic,” affirms Michele Sutton, president and chief executive officer of North Oaks Health System. “These health officers are truly our heroes, and the personal sacrifice that they are making in leaving behind their own families to assist us in caring for our community is both inspiring and humbling. This assistance could not have come at a more crucial time and has greatly boosted the morale of North Oaks’ own health care heroes.”

The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the eight uniformed services in the nation. Led by the Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Surgeon General, the corps consists of 6,000 highly qualified public health officers from all branches of the military. When needed, the corps is deployed throughout the U.S. to provide essential health care services to underserved and vulnerable populations.

Louisiana and Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes are currently experiencing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases, driven by transmission of the Delta variant. According to current data, infections requiring hospitalization are occurring predominately amongst unvaccinated individuals. As of Aug. 11, unvaccinated individuals accounted for 309 of 351 total COVID-19 hospitalizations on the Northshore.

Vaccination is the best defense against severe COVID-19 illness, according to North Oaks Chief Medical Officer Robert Peltier, M.D. North Oaks Urgent Care clinics in Hammond, Ponchatoula and Walker offer COVID-19 vaccines from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days/week. Visit or call (985) 230-SHOT [7468] to schedule an appointment.

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccinations, email Dr. Robert Peltier at to receive evidence-based responses so that you can make an informed choice as to whether or not to get vaccinated.