NEWS | April 15, 2020

Maryland National Guard supports nursing homes

By Capt. Benjamin Hughes Maryland National Guard

REISTERSTOWN, Md. – To protect the most vulnerable, the Maryland National Guard is working with the state health department to help safeguard people at nursing homes across the state.

As directed by Gov. Larry Hogan, multi-discipline medical teams will strengthen facility procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and adopt enhanced protective measures to protect those with underlying health conditions. Initial assessments will be conducted by telephone, followed by a visit to each facility.

“The residents of these facilities are at high risk,” said Col. Eric Allely, the Maryland National Guard state surgeon. “We need to help identify and rapidly fill any resource gaps that the facilities may have due to the current pandemic with a focus on elevating the level of medical care typically available in these facilities.”

Teams will be led by a doctor or advanced medical practitioner. They will include a field medic and administrative, logistical and behavioral health specialists, and drivers. All Guard members who will be in close contact with residents of nursing homes will have the proper personal protective equipment, including a face mask, appropriate eye protection, gloves and gown. Team members are from the 224th Area Support Medical Company, 104th Area Support Medical Company and Maryland National Guard Medical Detachment.

“Our goal is to bring medical care for lower urgency conditions to the residents rather than transporting them to emergency departments where they may be exposed to the COVID-19 virus,” said Allely. “In addition to protecting the residents of these facilities, our efforts help decompress the patient load in emergency rooms and hospitals, opening beds for the growing number of patients in need of those resources.”

The state is deploying testing and care teams, which the National Guard may augment. The testing teams, led by the state and county health departments, will screen residents and workers at facilities with active COVID-19 cases. The care teams, led by local hospitals, will determine what additional personnel and support can be sent directly to the facilities to provide on-site care.