Minnesota National Guard to reinforce nursing home staffs

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MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota National Guard will deploy 400 members to reinforce nursing staffs at long-term care facilities that have been struggling with severe personnel shortages amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Tim Walz on Monday also proposed using $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to help these facilities hire and retain staff.

The 400 Guard members will start training as certified nursing assistants and as temporary nursing aides over the next week. The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota National Guard medical staff will provide the training.

“Our force is highly adaptive and with training will assist Minnesota’s healthcare community in responding to healthcare staffing shortages,” Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, the Minnesota National Guard’s Adjutant General said in a press release.

According to the Minnesota National Guard, more than 70 service members since mid-October, have supported COVID-19 community-based testing at locations in Stillwater, Crookston, Hutchinson, Inver Grove Heights, Wadena, and Hibbing. Since the beginning of November, nearly 50 Guard members have supported transition care units at sites in Shakopee, Brainerd, and St. Paul.

The reinforcements from the Guard follow the governor’s announcement last week that the Department of Defense will send medical teams to Hennepin County Medical Center and St. Cloud Hospital.