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Wisconsin Hospital Association discusses what they have learned and been through in the last year

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MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - The Wisconsin Hospital Association held a virtual briefing Wednesday afternoon and members highlighted some of the creative solutions they developed over the last year.

The WHA held the briefing to share with the public all they have discovered about the Wisconsin hospital system over the last year. Officials said it showed that Wisconsin's hospital system is good.

Ann Zenk, senior vice president of workforce and clinical practice said they knew going into the pandemic that they have to grow their workforce faster and the results showed them just how quickly they can do that. She also explained that it highlighted the value of collaboration and making use of all hospital settings.

Zenk said that COVID magnified the importance of an adequately staffed and protected workforce as many implemented surge plans to take care of patients.

"If COVID taught us anything it was an awareness of dealing with not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of encounters for testing or tracing. Hospitals and health systems were providing medical care but they were also doing everything that they could to support the communities that they serve," said Zenk.

She explained that it also fast forwarded virtual care and telemedicine because many people weren't able to physically attend appointments in-person.

The pandemic magnified the need to utilize teams effectively and efficiently, said Zenk. She explained that team members must be allowed to support each other in performing to the top of their education, training, and experience.

One area of care they realized needs help is nursing facilities and care in hospitals. Zenk explained that the number of C.N.A.'s has declined greatly in Wisconsin and they need more of them. Moving forward, WHA has a few recommendations so that the workforce can sustain Wisconsin's high quality healthcare.

"As COVID recedes and we are all looking forward to our new normal, we need to continue to work together to sustain and strengthen the healthcare work force, to grow the workforce faster, to utilize teams, technology, and the best setting for patient and family to reduce regulatory burden," said Zenk.

Two Wisconsin hospitals also joined the briefing to discuss their COVID-19 experience. The WHA said Wisconsin hospitals have a national reputation for high quality, high value care. They explained that staffing and the workforce was challenged tremendously throughout the entire pandemic.

President and CEO of Prairie Ridge Health John Russell said the team they have has been remarkable and they never said no. He explained that they worked countless hours of overtime to help care for patients.

Dan Rohrback, CEO of Southwest Health, said the legislature has been responsive to health care providers' needs for licenses and things like that they have needed over the last year. He explained that it has been incredibly helpful.

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Rylie Kyhn

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