A look inside the national guard helping nursing homes with COVID

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BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) — Back in October Governor Eric Holcomb announced plans to mobilize the National Guard to address a surge in COVID-19 cases at Indiana’s long-term care facilities.

WANE 15 got a look at how the guard is helping one facility in Bluffton.

Christian Care is a senior retirement community located in Bluffton that provides care across multiple spectrums including independent living, assistant living and skilled nursing care. Across the campus Christian Care has 170 employees and 175 residents.

“It has been a big relieve to have this program in place,” Christian Care Executive Director Preston Kaehr said. “Our work force is really depleted down to a skeleton crew so having these extra set of hands and people to do that throughout the day is a humongous help and we would be in a world of hurt if we didn’t have that program.”

Around the last week of October, the facility saw a surge in cases which ultimately lead to an outbreak that has lasted for the past three weeks.

“It started with one resident having some symptoms, they were tested and it back positive,” Kaehr said. “That started the process of putting into place our emergency plan of having to separate residents and get them isolated from the general population.”

The virus has been contained to the health care area. The facility has been closed to the public with exceptions being made for near death residents.

Within 24 hours of Gov. Holcomb making the announcement about the National Guard, Christian Care learned they would be one of the first to receive help. Kaehr says the news was a blessing and big relief.

Everyday for the past three weeks a guardsman reports to the facility between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the day the guardsman assist with checking temperatures and screening staff entering the building, testing for COVID twice a week and helping manage PPE, masks and other items.

Currently the guard is expected to continue helping until December. Kaehr is hopefully that the facility will get through the worse of their exposure by then. What Kaehr hopes is that communities around nursing home will be safe when out and about.

“Even though they may have a certain belief about how this virus has been born, how the virus is going through are population, the preventative measures, if they are working or not, the safer our population is in the community the safer my residents are going to be,” Kaehr said. “Not only think about the direct thing and how it impacts us but how is my influence out in the community impact other people who may be caring for an aged person or someone very venerable.”

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