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Poland sending COVID-19 medical team to Chicago, White House says

The team is being provided by the Polish Ministry of National Defense and is expected to arrive in Chicago on Thursday afternoon.

A photo of Polish aid workers bound for Chicago, shared by minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Twitter.
A photo of Polish aid workers bound for Chicago, shared by minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Twitter.
Mariusz Błaszczak via Twitter

Poland is sending a nine-member medical team to Chicago as the city battles the COVID-19 pandemic, a White House official told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday.

The team is being provided by the Polish Ministry of National Defense and is expected to arrive in Chicago on Thursday afternoon and remain until May 2.

“The primary goal of the team is to share and exchange experiences in fighting COVID-19,” the White House said.

The Polish medical team came to Chicago as part of the Illinois National Guard’s longstanding State Partnership Program with the Polish military.

“The Polish military’s support to us here in Illinois during a global pandemic is a testament to the depth and commitment on both sides of our State Partnership with Poland,” said Brig. Gen. Richard R. Neely, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard in a statement.

“We value the long-standing enduring friendships we’ve established with the Polish over more than 26 years. Illinois National Guard Soldiers have fought side-by-side with Polish Soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan and now we fight a whole different type of enemy together.” The Polish team will exchange information with local medical professionals through discussions and online seminars.”

The team is a mix of military and civilian medical specialists:

  • Four doctors
  • Two nurses
  • Two medical technicians
  • One logistician/coordinator

Chicago has one of the largest Polish and Polish-American populations in the U.S. Given the restrictions on international travel, it is not known if this team will be required to take COVID-19 tests before briefing Illinois medical professionals.

White House National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien said in a statement, “The United States is grateful to President Duda and the Polish people for agreeing to send a team of medical doctors to Chicago to support American doctors in helping patients. They will also be able to take lessons learned back home to Poland.”

More from the White House: “The team will be divided into 3 groups in order to facilitate more engagement opportunities with local medical professionals” and will assist local health care providers “by sharing lessons learned when it comes to handling COVID-19 patients and best practices learned from dealing with infected patients, both in Poland and Italy.”

“The team will also be able to share opinions about best practices with medical professionals at the Chicago’s McCormick Place during preparations in case of the need to receive large number of COVID-19 patients. Illinois medical professionals will also have access to the team’s logistical support experience when it comes to managing infected individuals — taking advantage of the teams experience from assisting in Italy as well as military medical personnel fighting COVID-19 in Poland.”

A tweet from the Polish defense minister shared the Polish government’s view of the mission:

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in a tweet, according to a Google translation, “A 9-person group of medics has just left for Chicago @WIMWarszawa. The goal is primarily to gain the necessary experience that can be used to treat infected patients #koronawirus . We also want to support our allies in the fight against the epidemic.”