The role of Pa. National Guard in long-term care facilities

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)-When help is needed, the Pennsylvania National Guard answers the call. Since the beginning months of the coronavirus pandemic, the Pennsylvania National Guard has assisted close to 80 long-term care facilities across the state.

In some cases, members of the Pennsylvania National Guard will be sent to facilities to aid in the testing of residents and staff, which could take up to two days. In other cases, members are sent on a staffing support mission.

“They’re usually brought in when a COVID-19 outbreak brings the staffing level below what is necessary for day-to-day operations,” said LTC Keith Hickox, public affairs officer of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Pennsylvania National Guard nurses and medics help with non-acute care, while the general support staff assists with distributing meals, cleaning, and daily tasks. Members work 12-hour shifts and missions usually last from one to two weeks.

“At that point, they’ve processed through their quarantine periods and their regular staffing numbers have risen back up to sustainable levels,” said LTC Keith Hickox.

LTC Hickox has been with the Pennsylvania National Guard for the past 24 years and says he’s never seen a busier year.

“Nobody would’ve thought the national guard would be in nursing homes and long-term care facilities so this just goes to show the versatility and the flexibility that exists in the national guard,” said LTC Keith Hickox.

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