Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Thursday announced a plan to address the critical staffing needs of nursing homes throughout the state.

Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) will expand an existing program that allows employers to recruit new Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

In total, Evers will invest $6 million into the program through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nursing Home & Long-term Care Facility Strike Team.

“Across Wisconsin, a strong healthcare and long-term care provider workforce is essential to the health of our entire state,” said Gov. Evers. “With an aging population, Wisconsin has been facing a healthcare workforce shortage for years—a challenge the COVID-19 pandemic only further underscored—and this funding will support a real solution to the state’s healthcare staffing needs that will benefit our entire state well beyond this pandemic.”

According to estimates from the governor’s office, the program hopes to establish as many as 3,000 new training positions, with the goal of improving low staffing numbers.

Specifically, the funds will be directed towards “retention bonuses, employer reimbursement and success bonuses, and mentorships. ”

“Supporting and strengthening Wisconsin’s long-term care workforce is a critical part of addressing the healthcare workforce shortage statewide,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “With this investment, we will expand a program that is working and build our efforts to grow a workforce ready to support Wisconsin’s health needs today and in the future.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, staffing levels at some organizations required Evers to dispatch the Wisconsin National Guard. The individuals went to nursing homes and hospitals across the state to fill various roles.

“We continue to hear from our nursing home providers that they need more support to care for patients as our health system continues to be stressed by nearly two years of a global pandemic,” said Timberlake, at the time.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Wisconsin Daily Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]