A new task force in Wisconsin will work to find solutions to the staffing issues facing senior living, skilled nursing and other healthcare providers.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) created the Governor’s Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce on Monday through an executive order. Lt. Gov. Sara Rodriguez (D), a registered nurse with master’s degrees in nursing and public health, will lead it.

“We’ll be announcing more details … in the coming days and weeks, but the task force will certainly focus on the challenges facing assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities,” the governor’s office told the McKnight’s Business Daily. “These areas of study and potential solutions will undoubtedly benefit the workforce that serves senior living, memory care and assisted living facilities.”

Wisconsin faces a potential shortage of 20,000 nurses by 2040, Evers said in a press release..

The governor’s budget proposal for 2023-2025, announced in May includes, among other provisions, expanding the WisCaregiver Careers program that offers scholarships to address the shortage of certified nursing assistants in the state’s nursing homes. 

“This task force, led by the lieutenant governor, is going to play a critical role in our administration’s work toward real, impactful solutions to alleviate the burdens experienced by folks in our healthcare workforce now and into the future,” Evers said.

In addition to the lieutenant governor, the task force will include Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Amy Pechacek or a designee, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kirsten Johnson or a designee, representatives from the state’s higher education institutions, and other individuals appointed by the governor. Appointees are expected to include members from state and local government, citizens of Tribal Nations, and individuals representing healthcare professionals, organized labor, patient advocacy groups and other impacted workforce sectors and industries, according to the press release.

“The task force’s charge is to study the workforce challenges facing the state’s healthcare system, including recruitment and retention, identify ways to improve patient care and alleviate the burdens on the healthcare workforce, explore educational and training pathways to grow a sustainable healthcare workforce, and create an action plan with solutions related to workforce development, industry innovation, education and training for consideration in the governor’s 2025-27 biennial budget,” the governor’s office said.