With state officials predicting a “surge” in COVID-19 cases, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb unveiled a series of plans dedicated to ensuring that the Hoosier State is prepared for an influx of patients needing treatment for the virus.
Holcomb issued an executive order Monday allowing for recently retired medical professionals and out-of-state professionals to apply for temporary medical licenses to help in the response to the pandemic, and also laid out plans to increase capacity in the state’s intensive care units.
“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,” Holcomb said in a statement. “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.”
According to the executive order, medical professionals who retired or became inactive within the last five years, those who hold licenses in other states, and certain medical students and graduates will be eligible to practice medicine to help with the outbreak.
Professionals interested in returning to the medical field in the state will need to register with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, assisting in screenings, telemedicine and other basic procedures.
The state also unveiled plans to dramatically increase the number of available ICU beds and ventilators in the event of a surge of coronavirus patients. According to the executive order, Indiana has 1,432 critical care hospital beds.
The state has bumped that number up to 1,940 through a variety of measures, and the state plans to double that number by taking existing noncritical care beds, recovery rooms, operating rooms and outpatient facilities and transforming them into ICU beds.
The state began the pandemic with 1,177 ventilators, according to officials. Hospitals have found another 750 ventilators through a variety of means, and the state plans to double their existing stockpile by repurposing ventilators from operating rooms, ambulatory care centers, and the Indiana National Guard.
As a last resort, state officials could also put patients in alternative care facilities if necessary. Those plans would be enacted by the Indiana National Guard and Department of Homeland Security.