Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) is activating the state’s National Guard to form skilled nursing “response teams” that will provide support to facilities experiencing worker shortages. He also is proposing providing $50 million in federal funding to facilities to help with hiring and retention of staff.
Walz is making good on a statement made last month, when he said he expected “a fairly large contingent” of the National Guard would be enlisted to help with the statewide workforce shortage. Initially, 400 National Guard members will start training as certified nursing assistants and temporary nursing aides over the next week, according to the governor’s office.
“Our force is highly adaptive and with training will assist Minnesota’s healthcare community in responding to healthcare staffing shortages,” Walz said. “Financial support will help our skilled nursing facilities hire and retain talented staff to care for patients, and the Minnesota National Guard is preparing to fill any staffing gap.”
SNFs that face severe staffing shortfalls can request assistance from the Minnesota Department of Health, and selected facilities will receive a National Guard team to provide on-site staffing support for up to three weeks at a time.
“A crisis of this scope requires bold solutions, and we know we cannot fix this problem alone,” Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota, the state partner of the national LeadingAge association, said in a statement. “We are grateful for these emergency actions and the collaborative efforts they represent. They provide critical support for weary caregivers and the seniors they serve and provide a bridge to more permanent solutions to address staffing shortages.”
“The actions the governor is taking today will provide emergency staffing assistance to the exhausted professional caregivers who have been on the frontlines for over 20 months, and we are so appreciative for this much-needed good news,” Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, said in a statement.
The governor’s announcement only mentioned SNFs, although more than 12,000 positions in Minnesota assisted living communities are unfilled, according to results of a survey conducted Sept. 7 to 13 by the Long-Term Care Imperative, a collaboration of LeadingAge Minnesota and Care Providers of Minnesota.