WHA’s West Central Region welcomed special guest State Senator Patty Schachtner at its recent meeting in Menomonie.
Alison Paige, CEO of Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin, introduced the western Wisconsin native who currently serves as the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County. Senator Schachtner noted she joined the Legislature to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
As a legislator and medical examiner, Schachtner serves as a resource for her community. She said the 10th Senate district is fortunate to have several hospitals within the district, and believes it is crucial to maintain access to health care and insurance.
Schachtner and members of the West Central Region discussed several key items:
Virtual autopsy imaging: Schachtner noted an initiative she is working on within the medical examiner’s office that can be beneficial to hospitals: introduction of a Lodox system. Lodox is a virtual autopsy imaging machine. Among other uses, it can speed up full body x-ray imaging in autopsies and can help identify accident and murder victims.
Drug abuse deaths: This is an increasing problem in St. Croix County. Schachtner noted there were 300 drug overdoses in St. Croix County in 2017, nearly double the 2016 rate. More children are being placed in the foster care system due to parent methamphetamine abuse, and while more people are able to get the emergency opioid overdose treatment of Narcan, there is a lack of information about where the Narcan is coming from. Schachtner said these trends point to a need for more drug abuse education and prevention efforts.
Health care workforce legislation: Members noted the Legislature could continue addressing challenges in all areas of the health care workforce, especially in key shortage areas of nursing, psychiatrists and dentists. Kyle O’Brien, WHA senior vice president, government relations, spent time talking about the WHA-led graduate medical education grant program, which was increased in the last state budget. This program has created 134 new residency training slots in Wisconsin and funded two new family medicine residency programs in the West Central Region—one at Health Partners and the other at Mayo.
Schachtner shared a positive example of addressing workforce shortages by local high schools who are starting health care academies. She said this provides health care career ladders for students who are thinking about entering the health care profession.
Schachtner was elected to represent the 10th State Senate district, which encompasses much of the West Central Region, in a special election January 16, 2018. In addition to her legislative responsibilities, she serves on the Board of Directors for Turning Point Wisconsin, a center for victims of sexual and domestic violence, and is also involved with mental health awareness advocacy and is a co-founder of the Suicide Prevention Task Force of St. Croix County. Schachtner previously served as a school board member, an EMT, and an EMT instructor at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
WHA thanks Steve Lindberg of Mayo Health System-Red Cedar for hosting the meeting and Sen. Schachtner for spending time with our West Central Region members.