INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana National Guard has expanded its role in supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by sending specialized medic teams to long-term care facilities facing critical staffing shortages.
The clinical response teams of four or five members will care for and feed residents and practice enhanced infection control on a temporary, emergency basis when a facility faces an immediate staff shortage.
The medical assistance is in addition to ongoing work the Guard is performing at 534 facilities across the state screening employees and handling administrative tasks so staff can focus on patient care.
Five clinical teams have been established. Facilities in need are identified by the Indiana Department of Health. A team can remain for up to a week to allow the facility time to bring in more workers or determine an immediate plan to provide care for residents.
"Long-term care facilities have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cases are impacting staff as well as residents," said Dr. Kris Box, state health commissioner. "Our partnership with the Indiana National Guard has been a vital part of our efforts to protect vulnerable Hoosiers, and we are grateful for their willingness to provide this much-needed relief."
In mid-November, the Guard made its first call for medics and support staff in its force due to shortages of nurses and other care providers at long-term care facilities. Teams received specialized training on infection control measures to reduce transfers of COVID-19 patients to hospitals. The first teams were deployed to facilities on Dec. 3.
"We help where and when we can," said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana National Guard adjutant general. "It's who we are and what we're trained to do. We live here, we work here, and we serve here."