Governor Tim Walz (D) announced he is activating 400 National Guard members to assist with the growing staff shortage in the state’s nursing homes. “Our long-term care facilities are facing an all-hands-on-deck moment, and that’s why we are taking unprecedented action to support skilled nursing workers, residents, and patients,” said Governor Walz.
According to a press release from Walz’s office, the National Guard members will begin training as certified nursing assistants and temporary nursing aides over the next week. Facilities that have had severe staffing issues can ask the Minnesota Department of Health for staffing assistance. The facilities that get approved will “receive a National Guard team to provide on-site staffing support for up to three weeks at a time.”
“There are 23,000 open long-term caregiver positions across Minnesota. A crisis of this scope requires bold solutions, and we know we cannot fix this problem alone,” said Gayle Kvenvold, President and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota. “We are grateful for these emergency actions and the collaborative efforts they represent. They provide critical support for weary caregivers and the seniors they serve and provide a bridge to more permanent solutions to address staffing shortages.”
Walz is also proposing providing $50 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to nursing home facilities to help with hiring and the retention of staff. Walz said, “Financial support will help our skilled nursing facilities hire and retain talented staff to care for patients, and the Minnesota National Guard is preparing to fill any staffing gaps. I am deeply thankful to the skilled nursing personnel who work so hard to care for so many Minnesotans every day. I pledge to do whatever it takes to help Minnesota’s long-term care community get through this challenging time.”
“Minnesota’s long-term care community is filled with passionate, hard-working caregivers, and when they ask for our help, we are prepared to deliver,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Our actions today will ease the pressure on skilled nursing staff, and it will deliver better results for patients and peace of mind for families. I am so grateful for our skilled-nursing workers, and they can rest assured we stand by their side as we all work to rein in COVID-19.”
“This latest COVID-19 surge is a challenge for everyone, and it is especially difficult for long-term care providers who have been on the front lines of this pandemic for nearly two years,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “These actions provide vital support for this workforce at a time of need. We ask all Minnesotans to recognize that they have a role to play here as well. They can help reduce the pressure on our health care and long-term care workers by doing their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through vaccination, masking, and other prevention measures.”
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