Members of the Indiana National Guard are training this week at Camp Atterbury ahead of their upcoming deployment to assist in COVID-19 prevention efforts at all 534 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the state.
Adjutant General Dale Lyles joined Gov. Eric Holcomb Wednesday to announce that 399 guardsmen will be sent to 133 of the hardest-hit long-term care facilities beginning Monday.
By Nov. 9, Lyles said 750 guardsmen will be in 250 facilities, and around the middle of next month a total of 1,350 guardsmen will be working daily in every long-term care facility in Indiana.
He said their mission is to teach front-line workers infection control measures to reduce the number of nursing home residents being sent to hospitals with COVID-19, along with COVID-19 testing registration, data entry, and staff and visitor wellness checks.
“Indiana National Guard troops are well-trained and ready to assist with keeping long-term care facility residents and staff members safe and protected during this health crisis, just we do during other types of domestic emergencies,” Lyles said.
All deployed guardsmen will receive a COVID-19 test before reporting to a nursing home. Lyles said the troops also will be regularly tested and monitored, and provided with all necessary personal protective equipment, until the assignment ends Dec. 31.
State data show more than half the Hoosiers who have died of COVID-19 were living in long-term care facilities, and nursing home residents account for a significant share of the soaring levels of coronavirus hospitalizations.
Holcomb said it just makes sense to send the National Guard to help where the people are most vulnerable and where the regular staff is spending so much time on COVID-19 testing and other prevention measures there is little time left for patient care.
“We’re being proactive, not just reactive,” Holcomb said. “In the very beginning, we were reacting as this was really cresting. Now we’re being very proactive, and that’s going to help us manage our way through it.”
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