PARK FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- Airmen from the Illinois National Guard's 183rd Wing started work Monday, helping with health screenings at the Elisabeth Ludeman Development Center.
The guardsmen are responding to a call for help after a COVID-19 outbreak infected more than 100 people at the center The facility reported to residents and one staff member died from the virus.
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"This is a very challenging time," said Lisa Robinson, facility director. "I like to think that we're in this together. Our phrase is we are 'Ludeman Strong,' and we will get through this."
Monday morning 22 airmen, including two medical technicians, arrived at the center, which is home to about 350 people with developmental disabilities.
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Their job over the next week is to conduct temperature checks to help free up staff at the center to care for patients. Monday afternoon, Park Forest Mayor Jonathan Vanderbilt stood alongside state leaders to express their gratitude, and a sigh of relief.
"I appreciate them coming down and assuring the public that help is coming, it's on the way," Mayor Vanderbilt sad.
"We're very proud because we live in the communities," said Brigadier General Richard Neely. "These are our neighbors. These are our friends. There are people we attend church with, and we're very happy to be here to support the community and the front line."
State officials said this is a temporary assignment for the airmen. They will be on site for at least a week, but that could be extended depending on when additional help is available.
Park Forest coronavirus: National Guard starts COVID-19 testing at Elisabeth Ludeman Development Center