Health care workforce shortages continue to increase - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Health care workforce shortages continue to increase

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Larry Pupp Larry Pupp
Mason Quackenbush Mason Quackenbush
Steven Rush Steven Rush

Bethany St. Joseph Care Center in La Crosse is one of many health care facilities throughout the state of Wisconsin experiencing high levels of caregiver vacancies. 

"It's very frustrating because we've had to look at ways to adapt. We've had to reduce admissions because our goal is to provide good quality care to the people that live here. We can only admit as many  people as we have staff to take care of," said Larry Pupp, Administrator at Bethany St. Joseph.

Wisconsin hospitals employ more than 100,000 people and more than half of the state's 87,000 nurses are working in hospitals.

Mason Quackenbush, Director of Recruitment Services at Gundersen Health System said it's about finding a balance and working with local colleges to seek out new employees.

"There are times when there are pockets of needs, medical assistants, physicians, nurses are the usual ones we see. But nurses are the ones that we're seeing most now," said Quackenbush.

One third of Registered Nurses are over the age of 55 and in the next ten years, forty percent of them plan to retire.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association reports that CNAs are the highest in demand with a 10.1 percent vacancy, followed by Surgical Techs at 7.1 percent, Registered Nurses at 6.2 percent, and Dietitians at 5.9 percent. 

"Data that we've collected for this year's report shows a dramatic spike in that trend so we're calling that the silver tsunami and it appears it's crashing upon our shores," said Steven Rush, Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice for the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

Despite data from across the state, the average age of health care workers at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse is relatively low thanks in large to UW-La Crosse, Viterbo, and Western Technical College graduates.

"We haven't been above 23 percent in fifteen years. We're consistent and like I said, we're actually younger than we were in 2003, on average," stressed 

"We support a little more than 7,000 jobs in Wisconsin, if you actually do the economic impact here, providing health care for people who are out of state. La Crosse has more than 180,000 patient visits a year from out of state patients," added Rush.

MORE INFORMATION: Wisconsin Hospital Association

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