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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

State recruiting health care reserve workforce

The Indiana State Department of Health launched an online survey over the weekend, targeting health care workers who are not already actively caring for patients.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — To prepare for the coming surge of COVID-19 cases, Indiana is recruiting a reserve force of health care workers who could be called on to provide relief for those already on the frontline battling the pandemic.

The Indiana State Department of Health launched an online survey over the weekend, targeting health care workers who are not already actively caring for patients.

"Right now, we are asking retired physicians, those clinicians who have not been working because elective surgeries have been postponed, anesthesiologists and medical trainees to step forward," said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, ISDH Chief Medical Officer.

Katie James has worked as an operating room nurse for 15 years. With elective surgeries postponed, she has not worked the past two weeks. She is among 11,000 Hoosier health care workers who have already submitted the survey. She received an email Sunday from the state requesting she complete the survey.

"I'm available right now, not doing elective cases,” said James. “And the fact that nursing to me, it's a profession, but it's also a calling. I feel like I can't leave my other health care professionals in the trenches when I know I could go and provide some support."

The state department of health is asking all licensed health care workers in the state to complete and return the survey. The online questions ask for some basic personal information, license and certifications status, current skills and experience, hospital preference and shift availability.

Katie has never worked with ICU or awake patients bedside but is willing to help wherever her skills might be useful. If she is called to the frontline to fight COVID-19, Katie plans to stay away from her family, temporarily living apart from her husband and two young children at home.

"I hope and pray that they won't need this backup workforce," said James. "I give it 50-50, though. I know Indianapolis has been noted recently as a hotbed."

Indiana would most likely need the health care reserve workforce when the COVID-19 case surge arrives between mid-April and mid-May.