Minnesota National Guard to reinforce nursing home staffs

MINNEAPOLIS , -- 400 Minnesota National Guard members will be deployed to support nursing staff at long-term care facilities, which have been facing severe personnel shortages due to the increase in COVID-19 case numbers. Monday's announcement was made by Tim Walz.

Minnesota National Guard to reinforce nursing home staffs

MINNEAPOLIS , -- 400 Minnesota National Guard members will be deployed to support nursing staff at long-term care facilities, which have been facing severe personnel shortages due to the increase in COVID-19 case numbers. Monday's announcement was made by Tim Walz.

In addition, the governor proposed that $50 million of federal coronavirus relief funds be used to hire and retain staff at these facilities. A legislative commission is required to approve the request.

According to the governor's office, the 400 Guard members will begin training to become certified nursing assistants as well as temporary nurses aides in the coming week. Guard teams will be available for up to three weeks at certain facilities.

Walz stated in a statement that "our long-term care facilities face an all-hands on deck moment, and therefore we are taking unprecedented actions to support skilled nursing workers and residents, as well as patients."

The Guard reinforcements follow the announcement by the governor that the Department of Defense would send medical teams to two Minnesota major hospitals in an effort to relieve the increasing number of COVID-19-related patients. They are expected to start treating patients at Hennepin County Medical Center as well as St. Cloud Hospital next week.

Minnesota is currently one the worst hotspots in the country for new COVID-19 infection. The surge is causing hospitals to overcrowd and reducing staff. Many hospitals are finding it difficult to find beds for patients who don't need immediate care, but aren’t ready to return home because of the staff shortages in skilled nursing facilities.

In Walz's statement, Patti Cullen, the president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota stated that "we are facing unprecedented, record level workforce shortages in long term care communities across our state." "The Governor's actions today will provide emergency staffing assistance for the exhausted professional caregivers who have been at the frontlines for more than 20 months. We are grateful for this much-needed good news."

Gayle Kvenvold is the president and CEO at LeadingAge Minnesota. She also stated that the state has currently 23,000 long-term caregiver jobs and that providers cannot fix the problem by themselves.

We are grateful for the emergency actions and the collaboration they represent. Kvenvold stated in the statement that they provide crucial support to weary caregivers as well as seniors and act as a bridge to permanent solutions for staffing shortages.

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