Evers deploys Wisconsin National Guard members to nursing homes to help with staffing shortages

MADISON, Wis. — Dozens of members of the Wisconsin National Guard have been deployed to six nursing homes across the state to help address staffing shortages, and more are set to be deployed in the coming weeks, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday.

In a news release, Evers’ office said guard members will be trained to serve as certified nursing assistants through a partnership with Madison College. That will help nursing facilities make more beds available for post-acute care patients, with a goal of making 200 more beds available by the end of February.

Earlier this week, 50 guard members were deployed to nursing homes, and about 80 more who began training this week will be deployed by the end of the month, the release said. An additional 80 will begin training next month to be deployed by the end of the month.

“As we continue to see COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, we are pursuing every available option to bring needed staffing support to Wisconsin’s health systems,” Evers said in the release. “I’m proud to announce our new partnership with Madison College to provide training to Wisconsin National Guard members so by the end of February we can welcome more than 200 new certified nursing assistants in nursing homes across our state and expand capacity.”

During a media briefing with the Department of Health Services Thursday afternoon, Evers said the guard is “indispensable and can stand up to our most pressing challenges.”

“And as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, we are pursuing every available option to bring needed staffing and support to Wisconsin’s health systems,” he said.

DHS secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said partnerships like the one between the guard and Madison College “have been lifelines in helping to ensure our healthcare system remains strong and we also need the public’s help to support our health care systems.”