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Meriter, UW announce efforts to boost health care workforce

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UnityPoint Health-Meriter

UnityPoint Health-Meriter in Madison.

In efforts to boost the health care workforce, UnityPoint Health-Meriter is building a training center along the Beltline and UW Health is expanding efforts to recruit nurses and train other workers.

Meriter’s $6.9 million facility, called the Jeff Levy Education Center, is supported by a $1.2 million donation by Madison businessman Jeff Levy and gifts through the Meriter Foundation. It is going up off the Beltline near Todd Drive.

The center will support nursing education, community education and recruitment and training of other health workers, Meriter said in a statement.

“The country is facing a mounting health care worker shortage,” Meriter said. “While this issue is not unique to Dane County and UnityPoint Health-Meriter, Meriter recognizes the important role we, as a community health care system, can play in helping to address this problem in our region.”

UW Health said a “significant donation” from Verona-based electronic medical records maker Epic Systems Corp. will kick-start its effort to expand nursing recruitment and community-based health care apprenticeships.

“The demand for health care is increasing, but the supply of health care workers is not,” Dr. Alan Kaplan, UW Health CEO, said in a statement. “Even those with good insurance may face the prospect that care is not readily available because there are not enough health care workers to provide it.”

A new UW program will support students through the process of earning a certified nursing assistant credential, followed by an associate degree in nursing and bachelor’s degree in nursing. Participants will be employed at UW Health during the process and their educational costs will be covered.

Youth apprenticeship opportunities will increase, and adult apprenticeship programs will focus on licensed practical nursing, ophthalmology technicians and assistants, paramedics, respiratory therapy, and dietetics and patient nutrition services.

Wisconsin faces a deficit of more than 8,000 health care positions across the state, including about 3,500 in the Madison area, said Bridgett Willey, director of Allied Health Education and Career Pathways at UW Health.

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