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Recent report gives recommendations to address state’s caregiver crisis

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 10:55 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - In the middle of a COVID-19 surge in positive cases, long term care facilities such as Woodside Lutheran Home need a surge in help.

“We have 26 positions open on top of the staff we have out for COVID-19, so that’s just a long standing issue,” said Meghan Mehlberg-Fuss, administrator for Woodside.

A recent report by Governor Evers' Task Force on Caregivers takes a look at these issues and came up with 16 recommendations for state and legislative leaders.

Some revolve around overhauling publicly funded programs like Medicaid and Family Care.

“Really intended to look at how do these programs fund caregivers, or how do they allow the provider or the services to adequately compensate wages and benefits for caregivers,” said John Sauer, president and CEO of Leading Age Wisconsin. He is part of the 28 member task force.

Sauer says implementing reforms on how nursing facilities are paid could help give caregivers the pay they deserve.

“Our nursing facilities payment system really lags far behind almost every other state in terms of how we pay those facilities and actually compensate for the actual cost of care,” said Sauer.

During the pandemic the need for caregivers has been brought to the forefront and some staff has been added to the pool.

“Since the pandemic over 5,000 people have been trained through emergency caregiver provisions declared under the emergency act,” said Sauer.

However, funding is still a struggle as health care leaders advocate for allocating more CARES act funding to long term care facilities.

DHS Secretary Designee Andrea Palm says the state is doing what they can to get get much needed resources to hospitals and long term care facilities as they can.

“We’re working with regulatory flexibilities, our hospital partners and our long term care partners to work on expending capacity so that we are making sure we are utilizing our beds and our surge infrastructure to make sure we keep these vulnerable members of Wisconsin’s communities as safe as possible,” said Palm during Tuesday’s DHS briefing.

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