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February 2, 2018
Volume 62, Issue 5


Wisconsin Hospitals Take Measures to Conserve IV Solution

Hospitals coping with shortages to ensure patient care

This news release was shared with the statewide media February 2, 2018.

Wisconsin hospitals and health systems are taking steps to conserve their supply of IV solution as they cope with unprecedented shortages.

A majority of the hospitals and health systems in Wisconsin responding to a survey from the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) this week, said they are proactively rationing intravenous (IV) solution to minimize the impact on their organizations. However, almost half of those hospitals say their conservation efforts are having a significant impact on staffing, scheduling or other operational issues. A few organizations reported they have come close to rescheduling procedures or sending patients to other facilities because they were so low on IV solution, but to date, no hospitals have had to transfer patients or postpone treatments. See data graphs.

“Wisconsin hospitals are known for delivering high-quality patient care and even in the face of this prolonged IV solution shortage, our patients are receiving top-notch, safe care,” according to Ann Zenk, RN, WHA vice president of workforce and clinical practice. “However, our clinicians have been forced to develop resource-intensive workarounds that reduce efficiency and increase health care costs.” 

Alternatives, such as utilizing a syringe to slowly provide the intravenous medication rather than mix it in a bag and hang it from a pole to drip through an IV line, are time consuming for physicians, pharmacists, nurses and patients. Zenk noted the workarounds can triple or quadruple the time needed to safely prescribe, dispense and administer the medication the patient needs.

The prolonged nature of the shortage, and the severe flu season, compound the issue. 

“It’s the domino effect,” Zenk said. “We started with IV solution shortages in small bags used to administer medication, and mitigation strategies cause increased use of syringes and larger volume IV bags, so we are now seeing shortages of those key supplies also.”

WHA is urging Wisconsin’s members of Congress to sign on to a letter initiated by the American Hospital Association that urges the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to use “every authority at its disposal to address this crisis and present a plan to ensure immediate and sustained production of IV bags that also provides sufficient guidance to mitigate cost increases.”

The FDA recently announced it has taken steps to attempt to remedy this crisis by allowing the importation of saline products from other countries and by also approving new saline products. However, hospitals nationwide are concerned about the uncertainty of when these products will become available and when a long-term solution to this shortage will be implemented.

WHA is monitoring the situation with its member hospitals, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Public Health, the Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program and the Division of Quality Assurance. 

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WHA Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group Examines Statewide Dental Initiatives; Assesses Need

WHA’s Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group welcomed Ann Boson, director of community relations and charitable fund, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, to its meeting January 31. Boson highlighted Delta Dental’s support of dental patients with special needs in a variety of settings throughout Wisconsin. Delta’s support includes funding essential services and equipment in some WHA member hospitals that provide operating room time for patients who must receive their dental treatment while under general anesthesia. Some recent examples of support provided by Delta Dental to Wisconsin hospitals include:

  • $365,000 over three years to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to expand training and education. This training will help dental students as well as current dentists and their team members become more comfortable and skilled in caring for dental patients with special needs. 
  • $36,890 to Fort HealthCare’s program to purchase dental instruments and equipment.
  • $11,500 to ProHealth Care for dental equipment for hospital dentistry.
  • $85,000 to the Red Cliff Band of Indians Dental Clinic & Ashland Memorial Medical Center for a pediatric dentist and hospital cart.
  • $71,940 in the past three years to HSHS St. Mary’s and St. Vincent hospitals for dental instruments and equipment.

After Boson’s presentation, the Work Group reviewed results of a survey that was administered to Work Group members. One of the survey’s key findings was the substantial cost of treating special needs dental patients in hospital operating rooms. Most of these special needs patients are on Medicaid, and the reimbursement does not come close to covering the facility’s costs; in fact, losses are incurred on every patient. However, many of these patients must have their dental treatment provided under general anesthesia in a hospital operating room for safety reasons. Addressing this dilemma will be a primary focus of the Work Group. However, Work Group members acknowledged the importance of first determining how many of these dental patients are being served, or waiting for services, in hospital operating rooms throughout the state. WHA is gathering this information, which will inform the Work Group’s policy recommendations.

For further information on the Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group, contact Laura Rose, WHA vice president, policy development, at

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NPR’s Mara Liasson to Keynote Advocacy Day 2018, March 21

Register today!

Each year, WHA’s Advocacy Day is one of the best ways hospital employees, trustees and volunteers can make an important, visible impact in the state capitol. Help make an impact in 2018 by registering today for 2018 Advocacy Day, set for March 21 at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Registration is open at

As always, Advocacy Day 2018 will have a great line up of speakers, including morning keynote Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR’s award-winning newsmagazines, All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, D.C., focusing on the White House and Congress. As the 2018 Advocacy Day keynote speaker, Liasson will explore the current political climate and health policy, discuss what it means for America, and what impacts individuals, communities and health providers might expect during the next few years.

Join over 1,000 of your peers from across the state at Advocacy Day 2018 on March 21. More information and online registration are available at For registration questions, contact Kayla Chatterton at or 608-274-1820.

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Still Time to Register for WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference

March 9-10, The American Club in Kohler

Over the past 12 years, WHA has hosted nearly 1,800 physician leaders at the annual WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference, in an effort to assist our hospital and health system members in providing the necessary education to new physician leaders.

On Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, 2018, WHA will host its 13th annual “Physician Leadership Development Conference” at The American Club in Kohler. Leaders of member hospitals are encouraged to identify several new hospital and clinic physician leaders who would benefit from this popular, proven, in-state option for physician leadership development training.

As new physician leaders are moving beyond their clinical training, they also need to learn and employ a new approach to managerial decision making and problem solving. New physician leaders must now represent both clinical and managerial interests, and many need resources to assist them in making the transition. That’s where the WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference can help.

This highly regarded event offers high-quality education from nationally recognized American Association for Physician Leadership faculty with less travel expense and less time out of the hospital or clinic and away from patients, than the national offerings.

Conference information and online registration can be found at Registration questions can be directed to Kayla Chatterton at or at 608-274-1820.

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Youth Apprenticeship Programs Help Employers Identify Potential Employees 

Many hospitals and health systems participate in the state’s Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program. An apprenticeship offers high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to work in areas of interest in a school-to-work program that helps employers identify and potentially offer them employment in the future. In the 2016/17 school year, 638 youth apprentices worked in the health sciences field with employers around the state. Between 75 and 85 percent of YA employers offer their youth apprentices permanent positions at the completion of the program, the best testimonial possible of the program’s value.

The students gain valuable work experience and specific job skills, earn a wage, and upon completion are awarded a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency. Youth Apprenticeships are possible in a wide range of positions, from marketing, science, technology and IT to health sciences. To find out more about Youth Apprenticeship, visit To find the local YA consortium in your area, go to To explore the available program areas, including health sciences, click here: Contact YA staff at the Department of Workforce Development at 608-267-6705 or email

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WONE Annual Convention for Nurse Leaders and Managers, April 4-6

The Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Executives (WONE) will host their annual convention for current and aspiring nurse leaders and managers April 4-6 at The Best Western Waterfront Hotel and Convention Center in Oshkosh.

The 2018 theme is “Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Resilience: Priorities for Today’s Health Care Leaders.” The convention will open with a keynote presentation from Diane Sieg, RN. Using real-life stories from her 23 years as an emergency room nurse, speaker, author, life coach and yoga teacher, she will share the seven habits of highly resilient nurses and habits you can immediately implement into your work and life.

Closing speaker Kelly Swanson will present a hilarious and powerful motivating program based on her book, Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale?, which focuses on busting the negative mindsets that block the path to peace and prosperity.

The agenda also includes a variety of sessions including a legislative and regulatory update, ways to find clarity, purpose and balance, and strategies to enable staff to remain effective in challenging times.

The convention includes opportunities to network with other nurse leaders and managers. Anyone who has responsibilities for leading and managing RNs will benefit from the educational agenda and is welcome; you do not need to be an RN or a member of WONE to attend. A convention brochure is included in this week’s packet and is available online, along with online registration. For registration questions, contact Kayla Chatterton at 608-274-1820 or

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