MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin National Guard will be bringing needed staffing support to the state's hospitals and nursing homes, the governor's office announced on Thursday, Jan. 13.
The announcement comes on the same day that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for a single day – the figure surpassing 13,000 for the first time.
The DHS on Thursday also said that 95% of intensive care unit beds in the state are in use. As of Wednesday, a record 2,278 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications. The number rose by 276 patients in one week.
According to a news release, Wisconsin National Guard members will be trained as certified nursing assistants. The staffing relief will allow skilled nursing facilities to open up 200 or more beds by the end of February to receive post-acute care patients.
This week, approximately 50 Wisconsin National Guard members were deployed to six nursing homes across the state.
The Wisconsin National Guard told FOX6, troops are assisting at the following facilities:
- The Bay at St. Ann Health and Rehabilitation Center – Milwaukee
- Department of Veterans Affairs – Union Grove
- Wisconsin Dells Health Services – Wisconsin Dells
- Department of Veterans Affairs – King
- Hillview Health Clinic – La Crosse
- Mineral Point Health – Mineral Point
A group of about 80 members who started training this week will deploy at the end of January. Another group of about 80 members will start training in early February to deploy by the end of February.
"We’ve seen time and time again that the Wisconsin National Guard is indispensable and can stand up to our most pressing challenges," Gov. Tony Evers said.
The Wisconsin National Guard has played a significant role in supporting the state's COVID-19 testing and vaccination. Since the pandemic began, the Wisconsin National Guard has administered approximately 1.2 million COVID-19 tests and more than 230,000 vaccines, the release said.
Statement from DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake:
"As cases of Omicron continue to surge, this support is critical for supporting Wisconsin’s nursing homes. 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."