National Guard member helps nursing home resident with walker
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Providers in New York and Minnesota are receiving additional help from National Guard forces to aid with severe staffing shortages amid worries about the omicron variant. 

NY Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) last week announced her state was ready to deploy National Guard members to help short-staffed nursing homes. On Thursday, she released additional details about the plans and said that National Guard medical teams will be supporting identified facilities where additional help and resources are needed.

One of those facilities is the 589-bed A. Holly Patterson Extended Care facility in Uniondale, Newsday reported this weekend. Ten Guard members are being sent to the five-star facility early this week, and some 120 medical Guard members will be available statewide, typically in teams of two.

“We are prepared to provide that support as long as the state and the department of health deem it necessary,” Col. Richard Goldenberg, a New York National Guard spokesman, told local media. “If it takes through the winter we are prepared to do so.”

In Minnesota, National Guard members have begun practicing bedside care on mannequins and each other as they prepare to be deployed into nursing homes. 

The weeklong training is being given to about 300 troops since most don’t have any prior training in nursing care.

That lack of experience had been a criticism of long-term care providers in New York and elsewhere who received Guard support during previous COVID waves.

“I have no doubt our soldiers are going to be ready once they get into these facilities to conduct the same level of care that the current staff is,” Lt. Col. Brian Douty, the officer in charge of the state’s COVID-19 response, told local media. 

Nursing homes lost about 221,000 jobs between March 2020 and October 2021. Hiring has also failed to recover. Federal data showed that nursing homes lost another 8,400 jobs in October.