The Illinois National Guard will end its missions supporting Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) developmental centers in Park Forest and Kankakee late Monday after the state was able to line up additional support for the facilities starting early Tuesday.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has arranged for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to assist at the centers and IEMA and IDHS are also bringing in other medical staff to help at both the Elisabeth Ludeman Center in Park Forest and the Samuel H. Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.
“I’m proud of the great work our Airmen did at both centers and I know that they enjoyed working with the Illinois Department of Human Services staff,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “This mission highlights the National Guard’s ability to respond rapidly and provide critical support to the people of Illinois. The Illinois National Guard is honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the state’s medical professionals and first responders during this unprecedented time.”
Neely said that support to the developmental centers was an interim measure while the state secured temporary personnel to conduct the health screenings as long as they are necessary. Ending the missions will allow the Airmen to deploy elsewhere to meet the emerging needs of the state.
"We are grateful for the assistance from the Illinois National Guard at our Shapiro and Ludeman Developmental Centers. Their assistance enabled our staff to concentrate on caring for our residents," said IDHS Secretary Grace Hou. "Our staff enjoyed working together with the Illinois National Guard and are grateful for their help in protecting our residents. The additional support from IEMA will allow us to continue to provide direct care for our residents in their homes while maintaining our temperature checks for staff."
Some 44 Airmen were working at the developmental centers since April 19, with about 22 at each center. The team of Airmen, including four medical technicians, had been providing staff and entrance screenings at both sites. The Airmen worked at multiple entrances to separate facilities on each campus, providing temperature screenings as well as recording answers to an Illinois Department of Public Health screening questionnaire specific to COVID-19. Based on the results of the temperature screens and questionnaire answers, the Airmen would clear entrance to the facility or guide the employee to a more advanced screening from IDHS medical personnel.
The Illinois National Guard now has more than 1,150 service members activated to support COVID-19 response throughout the state.