Public Health

Heart of the North - Healthcare/Public Health Topic Committee

Topic/Issue Statements and Requests for Assembly and Senate Consideration

Topic 1: Prior to COVID-19 the healthcare world was anticipating a nursing staffing crisis by 2030 due to retirement expectations. The current climate in healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the timeline up and is arguable in a state of crisis in all fields of nursing. At this time the current availability of seats in nursing programs is limited across the state of Wisconsin due to the number of academic programs and also due to the current requirements of masters preparation in the field of nursing education to be full-time faculty in BSN programs.

Ask: Increased funding support for the development of additional nursing programs in both the Wisconsin Technical College and University systems.

Additional: To be noted this group intends to engage in the future with Wisconsin Board of Nursing to also discuss amending the educational requirement for BSN professors to include BSN prepared professors with a masters of education in a related field of study i.e. science and mental health fields.

Topic 2: Addressing the need for increased local access to service to support the mental health needs of residents in Northwestern WI. At this time if emergency placement is needed due to a mental health crisis, a client may wait for hours in already crowded Emergency Departments, while a bed is located to meet their needs. Then our local sheriffs departments that are staffed with minimum deputies are traveling 4+ hours one way to transport clients in crisis due to no bed availability closer. In addition current wait times to establish mental health counseling/therapy services have wait times up to 6-8 weeks.

Ask: Support of 2021 Assembly Bill 444 which would provide grant funding for psychiatric bed capacity expansion in EauClaire and Chippewa counties which is indicated to serve the NW region of WI including all of the counties our assembly represents. This would reduce the travel and wait time for our clients and increase continuity of care as well. This Bill also provides additional grant support opportunities to address suicide prevention programming which chould increase resources to rural community agencies that are striving to increase awareness and develop interventions.

Topic 3: Northwest WI continues to see methamphetamine as our primary illegal substance that is disrupting families and causing long term mental and physical health challenges for those using. Other areas of WI have seen a prevalence of Heroin and thus statewide funding has been marked for these efforts and the methamphetamine crisis seems to be being neglected.

Ask: Assembly Bill 844 regarding methamphetamine treatment grants proposes to allocate funding directed at expansion of training on effective treatment modalities for methamphetamine and we ask for your support in moving this bill forward.