The National Guard provides relief to the Samaritan Bethany of Rochester – Rochester Minnesota news, weather, sports

When Licensed Practical Nurse Lori Dietrich heard that Governor Tim Walz was planning to deploy more than 400 Minnesota National Guard personnel to care facilities to help exhausted and overworked staff, she had a question.

“I asked when we were next,” Dietrich said.

After working for 21 months in a pandemic at Samaritan Bethany, Dietrich could only come up with single words and short, incomplete sentences to describe how great those months have been. “Exhausting.” “Lots of tears.”

When she arrived for her Christmas Eve shift on Friday, something was different – Samaritan woman Bethany had extra pairs of hands to help her out.

“I found out this morning when I got to work that all of my staff were from the National Guard,” she said later that day. “It has been wonderful. It has been a peaceful day.

Following Walz’s announcement on November 22, Samaritan woman Bethany enlisted the help of the guards. The facility’s request was approved and 20 Guard members began orientation at the facility on December 20. Christmas Eve marked their first shifts.

“We didn’t expect it to happen this quickly,” said Sue Knutson, Samaritan Bethany Chief of Mission / CEO. “I think Kyla [Berg] was quite stunned when she received the notification that they were arriving so quickly. “

Berg, who is the leader of the community, said it was a blessing in disguise that this happened quickly over Christmas and brought many benefits to the long-term care facility.

“We hope that we don’t have to do a lot of overtime for the current staff and for the shifts they work they only work their regular hours and they don’t take their days off,” he said. Knutson said. “Just give them a little break – even for two weeks, that’s great.”

The 20 members of the Guard will be in the facility for approximately two weeks, although, if necessary, their assignment may be extended for a week.

National Guard members are in about 20 long-term care facilities statewide with the potential to add eight more sites, according to Brian Douty, the National Guard officer in charge of the COVID task force. . Approximately 11 of these facilities are located in Southeast Minnesota. The industry, like many, is facing a labor shortage that has only been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.

Before arriving at each establishment, members of the guard have completed 75 hours of compulsory training for nursing assistants and home health aides.

Private First Class Cynthia Vang prepares for lunch at Samaritan Bethany in Rochester Friday afternoon, December 24, 2021. Vang is one of more than 500 members of the Minnesota National Guard who have been deployed to care facilities long-lasting statewide to help with burnout and overworked staff.

Emily Cutts / Post Bulletin

For Pfc. Cynthia Vang, from Brooklyn Park, the move to Samaritan Bethany made her use her old skills. Vang trained as a certified nursing assistant in high school, becoming certified before deciding on a different career path.

“It’s actually very exciting to be back in the healthcare business and to be back as CNA,” said Vang. “Helping others is something that really excites me. Another reason I’m in the National Guard is that I can help people, I can help my community.”

“We’re really excited to be here to help the community because that’s what we’re here for,” Vang said of herself and the other members of the Guard.

Helping the community in this mission means things like doing the dishes, doing the laundry, or helping bring lunch to the residents.

“It’s really good to come here and take some of that weight off them,” said Lt. Taner McClure. “Because now they have the chance to spend Christmas with their family and friends. “

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