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IU Health hospitals ask for National Guard assistance during latest COVID-19 surge

By Bente Bouthier, IPB News | Published on in Health, Local News, Military
IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital (Photo provided)

Indiana University Health hospitals are requesting help from the Indiana National Guard to fill treatment, administrative, and logistical needs, according to an IU Health spokesperson.

The request for help comes as hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases increase across the state.

Read More: Area hospitals approaching last winter’s high COVID-19 cases in another surge

The first National Guard team arrived in Muncie yesterday, and other IU Health hospitals are expecting them in the coming days.

IU Health Arnett in Lafayette reported that a National Guard team will start there on Monday, Dec. 13.

Dr. Chris Weaver is the chief clinical officer for IU Health. He said IU Health currently has more than 430 COVID-19 patients across its system.  Sixty-five were admitted in the last week.

He said IU Health has been using traveling nurses to help with the current surge.

“With that and how busy things are, we reached out to the state, asking for the National Guard assistance. They’ve been offering that possibility since September and we thought it was the appropriate time.”

And, IU Health expects the surge to surpass the 512 patients seen at one point last winter.

Weaver said most of these patients are unvaccinated.

National Guard teams will have two clinical and four non-clinical service members. Clinical members are able to treat patients, and non-clinical members will fill other needs.

He added enlisting National Guard members would allow IU Health nurses and doctors to focus on patient care.

An IU Health spokesperson said all National Guard members are fully vaccinated.