Indiana National Guard helps long-term care facilities fight COVID-19

By Story by Kelly Sharp | Indiana National Guard | Nov. 4, 2020

Hoosiers will soon see additional support in long-term care facilities across the state from Indiana National Guardsmen, who are stepping up to help prevent infection in their communities.

At the direction of Gov. Eric Holcomb, on Nov. 2, the Indiana National Guard will mobilize teams of Guardsmen, overseen and supported by National Guard leadership and medics, to 133 of the state's hardest-hit facilities.

The National Guard will broaden its support to all of Indiana's 534 long-term care facilities during the next three weeks. In total, 1,350 National Guardsmen will be working in the facilities seven days per week through the end of December.

"Indiana National Guard troops are well trained and ready to assist with keeping our long-term care facility residents and staffs safe and protected during this health crisis, just as we do during other types of domestic emergencies," said Indiana's Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles. "Our citizen-soldiers and airmen, who serve close to home, know and support their communities and their neighbors."

The National Guard will support long-term care facilities by assisting with testing, reporting test results, screening employees and ensuring infection control practices are in place.

Protecting residents of long-term care facilities has been a priority for the state since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of these facilities have been significantly impacted by the pandemic because they are medically fragile and at higher risk for severe complications. Approximately 58 percent of the COVID-19 deaths reported in the state have occurred among residents of these facilities.

"The staff at long-term care facilities have been working tirelessly to protect the residents in their care, but even the most dedicated teams need extra hands and support," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. "We hope that sending additional resources to help with infection control and screening will allow these staff to keep their focus on patient care."

Guardsmen will be trained by professional staff from Probari, a company working with the Indiana Department of Health to teach front-line workers infection control measures to reduce unnecessary transfers of COVID-19 positive individuals to hospitals.

Prior to placement in the facilities, all Guardsmen will receive a COVID-19 test, and during their assignment, they will be tested and monitored regularly. The state health department will provide Guardsmen with scrubs and personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, goggles and gowns.