Minnesota National Guard to reinforce nursing home staffs

Published 1:42 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

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 announced Monday.

The governor 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 governor’s office said. Selected facilities will receive Guard teams for up to three weeks at a time.

The reinforcements from the Guard follow the governor’s announcement last week that the Department of Defense will send medical teams to two major Minnesota hospitals to relieve doctors and nurses who are swamped by the growing wave of COVID-19 patients. The teams are expected to begin treating patients at Hennepin County Medical Center and St. Cloud Hospital this week.

Minnesota is currently one of the country’s worst hotspots for new COVID-19 infections. Hospital beds are filling up with unvaccinated people, and staffers are being worn down by the surge. The staffing shortages at skilled nursing facilities are making it hard for many hospitals to find places for patients who no longer need acute care but aren’t ready to go home.