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Indiana National Guard, retired healthcare workers to help out nursing homes

State looking to reduce spread of COVID-19
Posted at 3:35 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 17:32:48-04

INDIANAPOLIS— In an effort to address COVID-19 outbreaks in Indiana long term care facilities, the state will now deploy the Indiana National Guard to all long-term care facilities.

2,205 residents have died from COVID-19, which is 58% of Indiana’s total deaths.

The National Guard will help with testing, reporting test results, screening employees and simple infection control practices. The goal is to begin November 1 in facilities with positive cases.

Wednesday’s announcement is part of a five-step plan to combat spread in nursing homes, as well as reduce the impact on local hospitals. The state also plans to hire clinical staff from the healthcare reserve workforce, including retired healthcare workers, to supplement long-term care resources.

This supplemental workforce will be trained on best practices for patient care and infection control, and all long-term care facilities will be visited several times a week. The state will also provide 2 million N95 masks for all long-term care facilities so all patient-facing staff will wear an N95 mask when interacting with a patient.

In addition, the state will provide 400,00 face shields and 680,000 gowns.

The state will also require federal infection control training for all nursing home workers and will reduce ongoing admissions to facilities to allow an immediate discharge from a hospital to a patient’s home for in-home rehabilitation.

Indiana received a first-of-its-kind waiver from the federal government to allow discharging patients to their homes.

AARP Indiana State Director Sarah Waddle released the following statement Thursday:

Since this pandemic began more than seven months ago, we have seen the disproportionate impact this virus has had on Hoosiers in long-term care facilities with 58 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths being residents. As Indiana sees rising cases across the state, we appreciate Governor Holcomb utilizing the publicly available, facility-level data, to take additional actions and better deploy critical supplies.

Access to resources for sufficient testing and PPE has been a focus for AARP Indiana dating back to the first letter we sent to the Governor on May 19th and a second letter sent on August 27th. These critical supplies are necessary to ensure not only the safety of residents, but also the staff who have been on the front lines, trying to do their jobs in the face of incredible challenges.

We’re pleased to see the state’s creation of a pilot program in Marion, Hamilton, St. Joseph, Floyd and surrounding counties that would allow discharged hospital patients to receive care at home first, rather than at a facility. Indiana has needed to invest more in home and community-based services for years and our current health crisis has put a spotlight on this fact. AARP Indiana is ready to engage as a strong collaborative partner to promote awareness of this new option for Hoosiers caregivers and residents.