80+ Wisconsin National Guard members trained to help hospitals tackle COVID-19 surge

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- More than 80 Wisconsin National Guard members are becoming certified nursing assistants and will soon be deployed to overwhelmed hospitals and long-term care facilities to help them tackle the latest coronavirus surge.

On Wednesday, Madison College's nursing assistant program provided a crash course on how to become a nursing assistant, where about 80 guard members got hands-on experience to support staffing shortages at health care facilities.

Their goal is to help free up bed space and assist hospitals and long-term care facilities across the state who have been struggling with COVID-19 infections.

"We recognized this was going to be a huge industry gap and our health care providers were going to need our help," said Lisa Marie Greenwood, associate dean of nursing at Madison College.

The 75-hour training course gave troops hands-on skills to assist patients and residents, such as helping them get out of bed, bathing, hygiene and other daily activities.

Andrew Moen, who's been serving in the Guard for 10 years, has family who's involved in the medical field, and said he jumped at this unique opportunity.

"It's awesome because if anyone else wanted to go help they'd have to go to school in a year or two," said Moen. "[Whereas] this was hey guys, we're going to get the best training we can get in a short period of time."

This was one of several missions guard members are taking on during the pandemic. They've been assisting at testing and vaccination sites, and were also called upon to help fill a shortage of poll workers in 2020.

Moen said while he's glad to play a key role in testing and vaccination efforts, he believes the nursing program was much more meaningful.

"With testing, you are just testing people, but this you are actually taking care of people and making an impact on someone's life," he said.

By the end of the month, 230 troops will be certified nursing assistants, according to a spokesman with the Wisconsin National Guard.

Governor Tony Evers announced last week 200+ will be deployed to regions that are suffering the most from health care staffing shortages.

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