Governor Mark Gordon announced in a press release that Wyoming is joining 13 other states in a project to address the shortage of healthcare workers.

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The Next Generation of the Healthcare Workforce Learning Collaborative is a six-month project being launched by the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices.

The project itself will involve people in each state learning the best practice for addressing the shortage of healthcare workers.

The other states involved include Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah.

While those states are participating in the Next Generation Knowledge Exchange Network, only four states, California, Wyoming, Missouri, and Colorado, are participating in the Learning Collaborative, which aims to publish ways to address the shortage by October 2022.

According to the NGA Center for Best Practices, 18% of healthcare workers have left their positions since the pandemic began, while another 12% have been laid off.

The effort in Wyoming will also include representation from the Wyoming Departments of Health, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, and the Wyoming Department of Education.

The University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges will also take part in the effort, which relates to the priorities of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership.

Gordon said:

"Wyoming is not unique in facing healthcare workforce shortages, an issue that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic," Gordon said. "Long-term solutions will require a coordinated effort that will benefit from this collaborative approach."

Gordon’s Health Task Force has been attempting to address nursing shortages with traveling nurses, as well as by using federal CARES and ARPA funding for recruitment and retention efforts.

Travelling nurses pose their own problems, like at the Memorial Hospital of Carbon County, which has had to close its labor and delivery services because of the high costs for traveling nurses.

The Wyoming legislature recently approved additional funding for workforce issues in the health and human services area during the recent budget session, and Gordon has also stated his hope to use recently approved funding for EMS services in the state.

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