The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s West Central Region hosted its Trustee Forum October 11 at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. This annual event brings hospital/health system leaders together with their trustees for a networking dinner and featured speaker.
This year, the 50 attendees were able to hear Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, an entrepreneur with a global language translation company, provide his perspective on being a freshman legislator as well as hear his thoughts about the state’s future economic development potential. During his comments, Zimmerman highlighted the importance of its health care sector, saying, “What you do is so valued” in our communities.
While discussing workforce, Zimmerman indicated health care was a “strategic area” where investments should be made. Deb Rudquist, CEO of Amery Hospital & Clinic, was able to provide her perspective on how investments being made by the state in graduate medical education (GME) are paying multiple dividends already. The GME dollars Rudquist was referring to stem from WHA’s seminal report on physician workforce and WHA’s successful efforts to establish a state-funded pool of dollars for rural residencies.
Rudquist told the group that the availability of these targeted GME funds for Amery (in partnership with Hudson, both of Health Partners) resulted in the following outcomes:
- Ability to create multiple new residency positions;
- Ability to attract over 70 qualified candidates from accredited medical schools to these new residencies; and,
- Ability to attract practicing physicians who said they wanted to relocate to Amery in order to help teach the new residents.
Rudquist said the latter outcome was unexpected and that all of the physician positions at Amery Hospital & Clinic are full for the first time in years.
In closing, Zimmerman urged attendees to never “underestimate the power of a phone call or an email” to elected officials.