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Prepared for Future Workforce Issues

The head of hiring at Tomah Health says the hospital is prepared to deal with future workforce issues despite a statewide report pointing to ongoing challenges due to an aging population, shrinking workforce and increased regulations.

Tomah Health human resources director Brenda Reinert admits there are challenges to the local health care workforce but said the hospital continues to grow its staff.

“In general health care is faced with these trends, but we are unique in that we are seen as more of a premiere employer in the area,” Reinert said. “People want to work here and it is for a number of reasons. We offer good benefits, we have a great work culture and our staff are able to build a lot of friendships here,” she said.

Four members of the Tomah Health Surgical Services staff
Members of the Tomah Health Surgical Services staff, include, l-r, Karen Smith, RN, Kristen McGarry, RN, Eric Peterson, OR Tech, and Siera Williams, RN.

A recently released Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) health care workforce report pointed to the continuation of concerning demographic, employment and regulatory trends in Wisconsin that could threaten access to care unless wise policy strategies are embraced.

“Not only do we need to grow our health care workforce faster, we know that with an aging population and a shrinking workforce we need to make the professionals at hand as effectively available to patients as possible by utilizing new technology, new health care team models and new settings of care,” said WHA vice president of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk, RN, BSN, MHA.

Among the major challenges identified in this year’s report:

  • The escalating demands of an aging population – the population over age 75 will increase by 75% from 2017-2032, increasing the number of those requiring more intensive health care.
  • Increased competition over a shrinking workforce – the population under 18 will grow by only 3.5% from 2017-2032.
  • A rapidly changing environment – hospitals have moved from paper to electronic health records in just a decade, and 75% of hospitals now provide access through telemedicine. With rapid technology, changes come challenges.• Increased regulatory demand – meeting regulatory demands requires 59 FTEs for an average-sized hospital; physicians and advanced practice clinicians devote more time to the electronic health record than they do face-to-face with patients.

Reinert said the hospital’s Human Resources Dept. has devoted resources over the years to address employment.
“We set ourselves apart because we continue to promote from within and offer a really strong educational assistance program,” Reinert said. “We’re not just a place to come and get a paycheck, there’s a lot of other benefits that come with employment at Tomah Health.”

Reinert said the services and technology offered at Tomah Health also create an attractive workplace. “We’re one of the premiere health care employers with cutting edge technology and expanded services – we have a lot to offer.” She added that Human Resources plays a key role in employee placement within the organization.  “We want to make sure that new hires are the right fit for the position to ensure their success and happiness – which creates tenure for Tomah Health.”

Reinert added there are a handful of positions officials struggle to fill which is normal for a rural facility. She added that turnover has been on par with the industry average.

Tomah Health closed out 2018 with approximately 385 employees, and Reinert said that number is expected to reach about 400 at the end of this year.

The 2019 Wisconsin Health Care Workforce Report is the 16th annual report designed to assist health care entities and elected policymakers in helping to maintain Wisconsin as a source for nation-leading high quality, high-value health care. The report draws from national and state data and studies, reports from other associations and findings in the field to offer recommendations for action.

For the latest Job Openings at Tomah Health, CLICK HERE

To Read the full WHA Workforce Report, CLICK HERE 

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