INDIANAPOLIS – Officials at I.U. Health announced Tuesday that members of the Indiana National Guard will deploy to Riley Children’s Hospital to help staff members deal with the current COVID-19 surge.
During a press briefing, I.U. Health officials said children are being hit harder by this surge than at any time during the pandemic.
“We have about four times as many children admitted currently as we’ve had in any other wave,” said Dr. Elaine Cox, V.P. and Chief Medical Officer at Riley Children’s Health. “More than half the children admitted are spending time in the ICU, and at least 40 percent of those are spending time on the ventilator.”
Dr. Cox said there are currently 32 COVID patients at Riley, including 9 maternity patients. The facility is currently at 87% capacity of the number of patients it can hold, she said.
By the end of the week, a six-member team from the Indiana Guard will begin serving in clinical and non-clinical roles at Riley. In addition to helping to care for patients, the military members will be able to help with the hospitals supply chain, environmental services, food and nutrition services, among other things.
The deployment comes as members of the Guard are already helping at 13 other I.U. Health hospitals around the state.
I.U. Health officials said there are currently 553 COVID-positive patients at the network’s 16 hospitals, which accounts for more than a quarter of patients.
Doctors and nurses are having to find new spaces in their buildings to care for patients.
“We have used conference rooms and ambulance space for spaces where we care for hospitalized patients,” said Dr. Michele Saysana.
“That has not been the case before COVID.”
Staffing challenges also continue as employees come down sick with the virus, according to I.U. Health S.V.P. and Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Chris Weaver.