IU Health enlists National Guard to help with surge in COVID-19 cases

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Indiana University Health, the state’s largest hospital system, said Thursday it is enlisting the Indiana National Guard to help manage the surging volume of COVID-19 patients.

“As COVID cases continue to increase and hospitalization of COVID and non-COVID patients reach all-time highs, the demand and strain on Indiana University Health’s team members, nurses and providers has never been greater,” the system said in a statement.

IU Health said it continues to see “exceptionally high numbers” of patients in all 16 of its hospitals. On Wednesday, the system was caring for more than 440 COVID-19 patients. Based on the rate that cases are climbing, it predicted it could have 575 COVID-19 patients by the end of the year. That would surpass the system’s census peak of 517 COVID patients on Dec. 14 of last year.

IU Health did not say which of its 16 hospitals would get help from the Indiana National Guard.

It’s the latest deployment of the Indiana National Guard to local hospitals, which have been overwhelmed with a growing number of COVID cases.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Indiana have jumped to their highest level in 11 months, according to the figures released Wednesday by the Indiana State Department of Health.

Hospitalizations have climbed 125% over the past month and are now exceeding levels seen during the surge in August and September. Hospital officials are bracing for a possible extra surge from the omicron variant, which hasn’t officially arrived in Indiana but has been reported in at least 19 other states, including Illinois.

Indiana hospitals set a new record last weekend with 70% of all staffed hospital beds currently in use.  Some hospitals have not been able to staff all beds, due to a growing shortage of nurses, forcing some to take units out of service temporarily.

The state health department said COVID hospitalizations rose from 2,642 on Monday to 2,755 on Tuesday. That’s the highest mark since Jan. 7, when hospitalizations reached 2,769. COVID patients occupy nearly 30% of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds.

In September, the Guard fanned out to several other overstressed hospitals, including Ascension St. Vincent Hospital Indianapolis on West 86th Street, Deaconess Hospital in Evansville and Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, to help with patient care and general help.

IU Health said six-person National Guard teams will help at its hospitals, consisting of two clinical and four non-clinical service members, and deployments will be in two-week increments.

While clinical service members may treat patients, the non-clinical service members will offer administrative and logistical support to allow hospital teams to focus on patient care.

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52 thoughts on “IU Health enlists National Guard to help with surge in COVID-19 cases

    1. No one ran anyone off. Those that chose not to get vaccinated from the virus that is killing 10s of thousands of people where sent sent home. Their duty was to get people healthy, not put all patients at risk. Get your facts straight.

    2. “Scientists in South Africa say omicron is at least three times more likely to cause reinfection than previous variants such as beta and delta, according to a preliminary study published Thursday.

      Statistical analysis of some 2.8 million positive coronavirus samples in South Africa, 35,670 of which were suspected to be reinfections, led researchers to conclude that the omicron mutation has a “substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection.”

      Scientists say reinfection provides a partial explanation for how the new variant has been spreading. The elevated risk of being reinfected is “temporally consistent” with the emergence of the omicron variant in South Africa, the researchers found.

      The team’s paper was uploaded to a preprint server and has not been peer-reviewed. ”


    3. Just because you are vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t spread the virus. Get your facts straight. Rehire the medical staff that were our heroes last year before the vaccine came out.

    4. So David G – for all the months we worked in surgery and at the facilities without this EUA vaccine, were we not getting people healthy? Suddenly healthcare providers can’t choose how to handle their personal health decisions?

      Let’s be clear. Leadership at IU Health want conformity, not educated choice. Aligns well with the current US political administration.

    5. Thanks for the not peer reviewed update Joe B.

      While you’re digging through the internet to find random articles to support your position, can you explain why major institutions like the Cleveland Clinic, etc. did not mandate and do not plan to mandate vaccines?

      Further, could it possibly be that variants won’t be stopped by “out of date” experimental vaccines with no long term follow up?

      The premise was wrong from the beginning. You can’t quarantine the healthy, and you can’t chase a mutating coronavirus.

    6. Threw that in just for you, JCB. Because at least one of us is transparent about such things. I’m still amazed that an “insider” such as you can’t come up with all that much good information to support your positions. Then again, I’m also surprised that someone who supposedly works in medicine believes the things you do.

      That said, it’s pretty easy to find out that the Cleveland Clinic is worried about all the crazy employees quitting. My opinion – shared by quite a few others in this thread at least – is that medicine is better off without them.

      “Speaking at a City Club of Cleveland forum in August leaders from both Cleveland Clinic and UH said they were not ready at that time to require vaccines for employees. Clinic CEO Tom Mihaljevic said there are concerns about large numbers of staff members quitting.

      “The shortage of health care workforce has never been as pronounced as it is today,” he said. “This is really a balance that we need to strike.””

      But go on thinking vaccine mandates are the issue and not staff burnout as to why people are quitting. Another reminder, with more people vaccinated, we wouldn’t be dealing with staff burnout. The current surge slamming local hospitals in 100% preventable.

      I can’t throw a second link in a story without it going for IBJ review, but the below is from the latest stats from the state of Indiana on who is getting sick.

      Since Jul 1:
      78% of cases have been #unvaccinated
      93% of hospitalizations
      77% of deaths

      Since Jan 18 (1st full vaccinations):
      84% of cases have been unvaccinated
      95% of hospitalizations
      89% of deaths

      2.26% of fully vaccinated Hoosiers have gotten sick
      .05% have been hospitalized
      .02% have died


    1. I applaud them for keeping the patients as safe as possible. Do you want a nurse with a possible infectious disease working on your loved one while they are battling for their life? Any excuse not to get vaccinated has been debunked by science. Most immune compromised people were told to get vaccinated. Too bad Indiana can put big boy pants on and regulate the same way New York is. NY is thriving because people living there want to get back to life, so they are getting vaccinated. No vaccination, no social life. Pretty simple.

    2. @dustin – they don’t work? Can you share facts behind that?

      You are always susceptible to catching the virus, but doesn’t require hospitalization and much lower risk of death. Just like any vaccination, still a risk, but much lower.

      You think this is a GLOBAL conspiracy. People in other countries are begging for vaccinations while entitled Americans aren’t getting them.

    3. thousands around the country have died and were vaccinated – you can look it up. the only person I know that has died was fully vaccinated and healthy. those are facts. you share your facts if you have any. there are many treatments (monoclonal, etc) that are saving people now or there would be more deaths. the vaccine simply does not work – look at isreal.

    4. David G Oregon is one of the most heavily vaccinated states there is with upwards of 80% of the people vaccinated yet they have one of the highest covid rates in the country. In fact they are looking at making wearing a mask indoors permanent now. So that doesn’t sound like they are an overwhelming success much less New York being an overwhelming success because their people are vaccinated.

    1. If people would get vaccinated, wear masks and wash their hands, we wouldn’t have a staffing crisis. Its a community effort, not an entitled one.

    2. I agree with the sentiment that hospitals should have a COVID vaccine mandate in the midst of a COVID public health crisis. Hospitals treating COVID patients are the #1 place where vaccine mandates make sense.

    3. You are not alone David G, there are more intelligent people who think this way just afraid to speak out!

    4. If people would stop eating junk food, quit smoking and drinking, reduce their weight, exercise, bath, and take their vitamins we wouldn’t have so many people falling ill to Covid and everything else.

  1. IU Health should reach out to SnapNurse which is a medical staffing firm out of Atlanta They can staff their facilities in as little as 48 hours. This way patients can get the attention that they need.

    1. I’d love someone to confirm that Franciscan Health has resorted to hiring nurses from overseas with limited English skills to fill their staffing gaps.

    2. Joe – not a horrible idea. If they have the skill set and can communicate what they need, win-win. It could be they are doing more cleanup and prep, that doesn’t require patient communication.

      Glad to hear they are thinking outside the box.

  2. Layoff good and hard working doctors, nurses, etc with a tyrannical vaccine mandate which results in a shortage of staff and THEN you enlist the NG to work for your hospital for free?!? Glad us hard working tax payers are paying for this and IU Health is benefiting additional profits on behalf of us. Such a logical and ethical process we are witnessing.

  3. The largest crisis I hear is Burn-out, not necessarily a shortage of bodies. These nurses are working long, hard shifts, with little break. It wears on them. I’m sure they are angry with their co-workers that chose not to get vaccinated.

  4. The vast majority of people that were released were not nurses, doctors and aides. They were janitors, cleaning personnel, security, administrative professionals, food service workers, gift shop employees….etc etc etc. Just get the vaccine.

  5. Workers have been quitting because they’re burned out after almost two years, frustrated that waves like what we’re experiencing are entirely preventable if not for the amount of misinformation keeping people unvaccinated.

    But go on with your fact-free narratives and blame the mandates.

    “In addition, the workforce shortage that predated the pandemic has only intensified, as burned-out healthcare workers are leaving the profession, hospital officials say. They add that despite a common misperception vaccine mandates are responsible for only an insignificant percentage of those who have left.”


  6. This pandemic could have been significantly reduced if everyone had worn masks, socially distanced and gotten vaccinated. The surge of covid cases is primarily from unvaccinated patients and the pressure on the hospital system has burned out many health care professionals creating staffing shortages. Using the ING is a practical solution.

    1. Keith, you have no proof to support your position, the surge of Covid cases is due to unvaccinated people. A vaccinated person can still spread Covid, they just won’t experience as severe conditions as an unvaccinated person.

    2. @Scott You’re correct and incorrect at the same time. Vaccinated people can spread Covid-19, but they generally don’t end up in the hospital. Based on that, it’s the fault of the unvaccinated for hospital workers being burnt out and bed space being limited.

    3. @scott the unvaccinated are the ones needing hospital attention, causing burnout and stress on our hospitals.

      A vaccinated can still spread, but they can also protect themselves from getting sick and reducing the possibility of being sick and increasing the chances of spreading.

      Heck, if people wore the masks and socially distanced in the beginning, what would we look like now?

      Unfortunately I know of a dozen people that died of Covid. A friends parents, both of them, in their 60s and healthy, UNVACCINATED, died within a week of each other of Covid. I know twice as many that have had Covid and never went to the hospital, vaccinated, no lingering issues. Vaccinations work? Statistically and science whole hardily disagree with your misinformation.

  7. This is symptomatic of the daily, ever-widening cultural gap in our country. America was founded on liberty and freedom. It is in our DNA. We have a ridiculous amount of statutory laws. No individual can possibly know everything that is illegal as a means to remain a “law abiding” citizen. Most decent citizens make a daily effort to “do the right thing” as a means to maintaining their “law abiding” status. As far as the vaccine mandate is concerned, the execution was a train wreck. President Biden announced publicly that “we won’t have a mandate”. Later he announced a mandate. That breeds broken trust. Some might ask “what else will he change his mind about?”. Will some negative result of vaccination be announced after we have been repeatedly told there are no or minimal negatives? There is also the question of constitutional legality. It may soon be determined that vaccine mandates are not constitutionally legal. In which case, President Biden will be determined to have broken the law. Of course he will face no legal consequence of doing so. One aspect of freedom that many fail to understand is the downside that comes with the upside. We are just as free to make poor decisions as we are to make good ones. Just look at our burgeoning prisons. Full of violent, “poor decision makers”. I was vaccinated as soon as I was eligible. I believe the benefits outweigh any risks. I encourage others to get vaccinated. However, a government mandate that hits citizens in their most vulnerable spot … namely the ability to keep their job and provide for their family, has proven to be a major error. It has divided our nation even further. By someone that campaigned on a platform to unite our nation. More broken trust. We desperately need a Commander-In-Chief that will unite our fractured nation. Someone who will be honest and define what is good about America and Americans, and celebrate what we do agree upon. Someone who will also honestly point out what we don’t agree upon and how we can engage in civil discourse to address our differences. Someone that will call out the politicians and activists that fan the flames of division as a means to line their pockets with wealth and accrue more power and influence. We desperately need a genuine leader! And they won’t be found in the Washington beltway.

    1. Mark – thanks for the comment and anyone who believes that a person in or near Washington DC or involved in the media doesn’t have an agenda of division is delirious.

      You want movement in the right direction as a country and unity? Fire all these self serving politicians every 8 years and turn off the TV.

      Amazing the level of corruption on all sides of the aisle.

  8. Federal, State or local governments should not have the mandate to enact sweeping vaccine requirements across all segments of our society. However, as contradictory as it might seem, all employers– including Federal, State and local government employers– sure should have that right. If I recall a recent IBJ commentary touched on this very matter. Regarding hospitals as employers, it is especially important to require vaccinations to prevent the spread of disease. Unless you’ve worked in a hospital, you really don’t know the severe burdens ( personal, professional, institutional) this pandemic has placed on all the good people working in that setting trying to keep alive those patients requiring critical care hospitalizations. And, factually, a very great majority of current people in need of hospital care for Covid are NOT vaccinated. Data shows the key to reduce hospitalization rates and disease burden (less severe symptoms and outcomes) is vaccination. Just as importantly, think about the potential collateral damage to non Covid patients needing emergency services in hospitals (Hearts Attacks, Strokes, Severe Injury Accidents to name a few) where a hospital system is so overburdened due to Covid patient care they can’t provide adequate care to others.

    1. thousands around the country have died and were vaccinated – you can look it up. the only person I know that has died was fully vaccinated and healthy. there are many treatments (monoclonal, etc) that are saving people now or there would be more deaths. the vaccine simply does not work – look at isreal.

    2. @Dustin IBJ allows you to post links to other websites. Why don’t you use that ability to link us to a credible study showing all of these dead vaccinated people? The only dead fully vaccinated people I’ve heard of were either over 65, or didn’t get their booster when they were supposed to and had underlying health conditions.

    3. Boosters change the math (even in Israel), and vaccines never promised to stop every case.

      But you’ve heard that repeatedly and ignored it. So, Merry Christmas.

  9. Dustin loves to repost his previous comments. One thing he is missing… yes, you can still die if you are vaccinated. But in most cases, it is the elderly over 80, and like Colin Powell, you already have a pre-existing condition that renders your overall health situation in a precarious manner. I’d rather be vaccinated in today’s precarious state of the pandemic than be petulant, stubborn and thinking that I was somehow superhuman and could never actually be put into harm’s way by Covid.

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