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New Wisconsin report shows concern of aging workforce in health care

Drew Kelly

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The Wisconsin Hospital Association released its Health Care Workforce Report and there isn’t much positive news.

The 30-page report is riddled with terms like nurse shortage, aging worker population and burnout.

Gundersen Health System CEO Scott Rathgaber says they are in a better position based on location, but not immune from issues.

“We are fortunate to have two really good nursing schools here in town — Viterbo and Western,” Rathgaber said. “And they’re supplying us with nurses. We want to make sure we keep that supply, as well as therapists, and physicians.”

The report details how the average age of nurses is growing at a rapid rate, and add that to the growing number of patients, the industry is on the verge of a “silver tsunami.”

Rathgaber says they do what they can to keep the younger workers around.

“We always worry about burnout. We have actually measured that in our staff,” Rathgaber said. “We work with them to improve their resiliency and, also, to connect them really close to our greater purpose.”

Technology, according to Rathgaber, taking away some of the meaningless tasks helps in morale and a sense of purpose.

The report opens by saying that until 2032, the population 18-and-under is projected to grow by only 3.5%, while the population aged 65-and-over is projected to grow by 48%, and the population aged 75-and-older is projected to grow by a whopping 75%.