MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Frontline nurses and caregivers testified before the Dane County Health and Public Health Workforce Needs Subcommittee on Tuesday evening.
The meeting was the subcommittee’s first hearing in an effort to address the workforce shortage crisis and promote the well-being of healthcare workers.
Many healthcare workers testified that understaffing and turnover can lead to trauma for workers and inadequate care for patients.
Wisconsin’s current labor shortage is a growing problem, with nearly 23,000 nursing positions should be open by 2040.
A UW Health nurse who has been in the field for 10 years said he loves his job, but the working conditions are driving him crazy.
“Nursing at UW is a great career because I love it. I want to keep doing it, but we’re running out of colleagues, support and we’re all pretty tired and exhausted from COVID,” the UW Health nurse said.
Another UW Health nurse who has worked in the field for 15 years said it was not a new problem, but COVID has made the conditions even worse.
“We have been sounding the alarm for a long time, and now we are sounding it as loud as possible. We need help immediately,” she said.
Local healthcare employers also contributed to the conversation, all agreeing that staffing is a major issue they face.
Employers discussed several avenues to help ease the stress placed on workers, including considering canceling student loans, raising wages, paying for training, and working with area schools to help channel potential nurses to hospitals.
Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin President and CEO Dr. Mark Huth said that while COVID has exacerbated problems in the health sector, they are problems that have been going on for years.
“Health care has been broken for many years in this country. We spend twice as much as anyone else, and we’re 37th in the world for quality, so health care has been down for some time,” Dr Huth said.
The committee will continue its discussions and ask for further recommendations at a future meeting. The date of this meeting has yet to be determined.
NBC15 has reached out to UW Health for comment after hours, but has yet to receive a response.
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