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La Crosse County has enough psychiatrists; rest of area struggling

Drew Kelly

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Rick Solem

La Crosse County has one of the highest concentrations of psychiatrists in Wisconsin.

That according to a new study by the group Wisconsin Policy Forum, which finds a general shortage of psychiatrists with 20 of the state’s 72 counties having no psychiatrists practicing. Another 10 counties have less than a single, full-time psychiatrists.

It’s especially problematic in a state that ranks 41st of 50 for issues of mental illness and substance abuse.

More than half of the counties have what’s known as a “significant shortage” of psychiatrists according to both state and federal measures.

At about six per 30,000 people, La Crosse has the sixth highest concentration of psychiatrists in the state. Pepin County is first with about 20 psychiatrists per 30,000.

More rural counties like Trempealeau, Monroe, and Jackson counties all have less than one per 30,000.

Demographics being what they are, Mandy Hess, clinical manager at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, says there needs to be a shift in treatment.

“We’re hoping to go from that crisis, where they’re being connected only when something significant happens, to more of that collaboration so we can offer preventative type services,” Hess said, adding they offer tele-Medicine to provide psychiatry services in rural communities.

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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    Mandy Hess

    October 22, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Correction: I indicated that we offer tele-Medicine to provide psychiatry services in rural communities . I was misquoted as saying we “loan out providers,” which is accurate.

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