INDIANAPOLIS — With more than 800 positive COVID-19 cases among staff and inmates at Indiana state prisons, doctors and Department of Correction healthcare workers are being kept very busy.
Enter the Indiana National Guard, which has taken on numerous coronavirus-related missions over the last two months.
While in the correctional facilities, soldier's responsibilities include medical processing operations, performing blood draws and dispensing medicine as prescribed by IDOC doctors and nurses. They also assist with obtaining vitals and are ready to perform triage in the event of emergencies within the facility clinic.
"These medical professionals quickly augmented the governor's effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in correctional facilities during this public health crisis,” said Maj. Chris Johanningsmeier, 776th Battlefield Engineer Brigade operations officer.
National Guard members supporting this mission were chosen because of their qualifications as medical professionals. To prepare the personnel, IDOC staff provided training on April 25-26.
Part of their non-patient time includes preparing doctor-prescribed medicine and routine shift reporting. IDOC provides all medical supplies and personal protective equipment in the infirmaries. The National Guard added a few items to the packing list, such as protective masks and scrubs.
Guard members have been sent to prisons in Plainfield, Pendleton and Westville—facilities that have seen high number of virus cases.
“This mission will likely run through the end of May, but as it continues to evolve and change that could extend even further,” said Johanningsmeier.