During the most stressful and overwhelming months of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals in Indiana and throughout the nation struggled to maintain staffing levels, a problem dating back to before the pandemic began.
Answering the call to serve Hoosiers in need, more than 1,500 Indiana National Guard members stepped in to aid those who typically do the healing. The Indiana National Guard spent nearly three months assisting health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes across the state during the busiest and most infectious months of the pandemic. They helped distribute personal protective equipment early in the pandemic to communities in need. By the end of January 2022, the Indiana National Guard had provided over 52,000 total support hours across the state at 58 hospitals, from rural facilities to urban safety net hospitals.
Along with providing daily support to hospital staff, such as running labs for nurses and cleaning medical facilities, members of the Indiana National Guard also helped staff vaccine clinics, testing sites, and food pantries throughout Indiana.
Since the height of the pandemic, hospitalizations have steadily declined, and members of the National Guard are no longer assisting hospitals with day-to-day needs. However, their tireless dedication remains top of mind for caregivers to whom they provided much-needed relief.
To recognize their hard work and dedication during one of the most trying times in health care history, IHA presented the Indiana National Guard with a board resolution thanking them for their service to hospitals. Along with the resolution, IHA presented a $50,000 donation from the Hahn Foundation and member hospitals to the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund, which supports Hoosier guard families during deployment.
“I want to thank the National Guard for their steadfast commitment that brought much-needed relief and assistance to our Indiana hospitals and staff members during a very critical time,” said Brad Smith, IHA Chairman. “Words cannot express the overwhelming sense of joy and gratefulness the staff experienced seeing the National Guard walk through our doors ready to help. I want to commend the National Guard for everything they did during the pandemic to assist hospitals and our staff to care for patients and our communities during an unprecedented time—they were all angels on earth.”
Indiana National Guard Medic Sergeant John Nelson worked on the frontlines during the pandemic. He says helping hospitals during a time of great need is what he was called to do.
"I think helping hospitals highlights what the Guard does,” said Nelson. “Our primary role is to help our state and its citizens, and we actually got to go in and do that. As a medic, I got to use those skills and broaden my skillsets. Being able to help our state and local communities was the best part of it, because that is what the National Guard is there to do."