National Guard Deploying to Hospitals, Nursing Homes
Gov. Evers deploying 210 members in wake of COVID-19 surge.
Faced with record COVID-19 case and hospitalization levels, Governor Tony Evers announced the deployment of 210 Wisconsin National Guard members to hospitals and nursing homes.
The effort, which includes a training partnership with Madison College, is expected to allow skilled nursing facilities to open at least 200 more beds by the end of February for post-acute care patients.
According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) data, there are a record 488 patients in intensive care units (ICU) with COVID-19. There are 2,278 hospital patients with COVID-19.
“The Wisconsin National Guard has been heavily engaged in the battle against COVID-19 since day one of this pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp. “We see ourselves as neighbors helping neighbors, and when we say that, we mean it. We will continue to assist our state in any way we can because we live and work in these same communities across Wisconsin.”
Evers announced that approximately 50 guard members were deployed this week to six nursing homes. A group of approximately 80 guard members who started training this week will be deployed at the end of January. Another group of 80 is scheduled to begin training in February and be deployed at the end of the month.
DHS reports it has worked with staffing agencies to recruit 626 nurses, nursing assistants, and other types of health care workers since Oct. 19 to support 76 health and residential care facilities.
Healthcare providers have reported challenges both with an increase in the number of patients requiring care and the number of their own staff members who are testing positive for the disease.
According to a Jan. 12 release from Advocate Aurora Health, 93% of hospital patients are unvaccinated, 94% of ICU patients are unvaccinated and 98% of those requiring ventilators are unvaccinated. Aurora only considers a patient vaccinated if they have completed their vaccine series and, if eligible, received a booster.
The DHS dashboard reports that 92.4% of all hospital beds and 95.1% of all ICU beds are in use statewide. The western Wisconsin healthcare region reports 100% ICU usage and the Fox Valley reports 99.2%. The southeast region, which includes Milwaukee, reports 95% general bed usage and 95.5% ICU bed usage.
“As cases of Omicron continue to surge, this support is critical for supporting Wisconsin’s nursing homes,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We continue to hear from our nursing home providers that they need more support to care for patients as our health system continues to be stressed by nearly two years of a global pandemic. Our new partnership with Madison College and the Wisconsin National Guard will help us ensure Wisconsinites have access to the care they need and help us increase critical healthcare capacity.”
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