Members of the Minnesota National Guard have begun intensive training to deploy to long-term care facilities statewide.
On Monday, November 22, Governor Tim Walz ordered more than 400 members of the Guard to deploy to the facilities to help the exhausted and overworked staff.
Before reporting for work, the Minnesota Department of Health requires licensed practical nurses and home helpers to complete 75 hours of training.
Sunday that meant a 12-hour instructional day for Kara De La Fosse, director of licensed practical nurses and home health care programs at Riverland Community College.
These kinds of days are not new to her.
âIt was nothing to work 12-hour, 4-hour shifts,â she said of her nursing experience.
De La Fosse showed up for work at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday and worked with the students throughout the day.
She will do it again on Monday.
“I really don’t mind,” she said during a short break on Sunday night. âI am happy to be part of this initiative.
The initiative aims to relieve an industry that was already understaffed before the COVID-19 pandemic. To support the deployment, Walz also asked to use $ 50 million in unspent federal coronavirus relief funds to help nursing and long-term care facilities hire and retain staff.
De La Fosse said that even before COVID-19 made work in institutions more difficult and demanding, long-term care facilities faced nursing shortages.
“There still appears to be a critical shortage of licensed practical nurses and nurses,” she said.
National Guard soldiers commit to 75 hours of training crammed into one week. After that, they will go into long hours of work.
Students at Riverland are learning the basics of home care assistance, added De La Fosse. This includes helping people with reduced mobility in their daily activities. Students learn how to help people move to and from bed, or to and from wheelchairs or walkers.
âWe are looking at how to meet their needs in a holistic way,â she said.
While training and working will take long hours, the profession tends to attract people who are passionate about helping people, making it a bit easier to pass the hours.
âAt the end of the day, when you’re passionate about your job and you’re happy to be a part of a team and know you’re helping people, it’s a commitment you find you can make,â said declared De La Fosse.
This move to help long-term care facilities follows Walz’s announcement the previous week that the US Department of Defense would send medical teams to help relieve doctors and nurses at two major Minnesota hospitals. .