Indiana plans for surge of coronavirus patients

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb gives update on state's coronavirus response

INDIANAPOLIS (FOX19) - Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order and detailed plans Monday to help Indiana when the state experiences an anticipated spike in coronavirus patients.

“We see a surge coming and we’re calling in the reinforcements, bolstering Indiana’s capacity to provide additional health care services during this emergency,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “By eliminating licensing barriers and tapping in to the available talent pool of healthcare workers, Hoosiers are staffing up and stepping up to meet this challenge head-on.”

The executive order allows the following professionals who do not currently hold an active license to practice:

  • medical professionals who retired or became inactive in the last five years
  • medical professionals who hold licenses in other states
  • medical professionals who held licenses in other states and retired or became inactive in the last five years
  • certain medical students and graduates

These professionals must register with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency via their website at www.in.gov/pla. They will be able to assist in screenings, telemedicine, and other basic procedures to allow regularly licensed medical professionals to be on the frontline.

The secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration says the state expects to see the peak surge of COVID-19 patients from mid-April through mid-May.

As of Monday, Indiana has 35 deaths and 1,786 confirmed coronavirus cases. Marion County, where Indianapolis is located, has the highest number of confirmed cases in the state with 804 people diagnosed.

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In Indiana, the baseline number of critical care hospital beds is 1,432. As of Monday, hospitals have already taken steps to increase the number of beds to 1,940.

Overall, the state’s plan is to double the number, if needed, by taking existing noncritical care hospital beds, recovery rooms, operating rooms, and outpatient facilities, turning them into critical care hospital beds.

Health officials say they have 1,177 ventilators for COVID-19 patients who are in critical condition. Their goal is to double that amount by repurposing ventilators from operating rooms, ambulatory care centers, EMS and the Indiana National Guard.

“We are working hard to focus and cohort patients with COVID-19 to help us with personal, PPE and other things to allow us to have the best care possible to Hoosiers,” Dr. Chris Weaver of Indiana University Health said.

Anyone who wants to assist with PPE is asked to email COVIDResponse@iedc.IN.gov

Weaver also says that medical personnel are using anesthesia machines as ventilators for COVID-19 patients who have more severe cases.

The state also wants to increase the number of medical volunteers.

Gov. Holcomb says that Indiana has more than 5,300 medical volunteers and the state is still looking for more.

“This is reflective of who we are and if you’re contemplating pitching in, there’s room in the inn,” Holcomb said. “We need more people to step up to help. The more that do the faster we will all collectively get through this.”

The state will also reopen closed hospital facilities to provide additional space.

In addition, Gov. Holcomb sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to declare a disaster in Indiana.

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