UP health groups hold first-ever health care worker summit

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 2:40 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - For the first time, healthcare groups from around the U.P. gathered in Marquette Thursday to discuss how to address the demand for healthcare workers.

The summit was organized in part by Northern Michigan University’s Center for Rural Health and Michigan Works. NMU Center for Rural Health Director Elise Bur said coming together in person has allowed them to work more effectively on solutions.

“We’ve really determined that we do greater work when we work together. So, by combining our talents, and our experience we were able to put together something that really addresses the workforce recruitment and retention in the Upper Peninsula,” Bur said.

In attendance were government health agencies, like the Western U.P. Health Department which gave a preview of its assessment of needs for the region. Bur says information like this is key to better understanding what actions need to be taken.

“We need to move forward and plan for the future, I think with the pandemic happening a lot of people have been focusing on tomorrow. How do we stay open tomorrow, how do we operate tomorrow, and staff shortages. We also need to look into the future as well,” Bur said.

Bur said Thursday’s event is the result of a year of planning. The event was made possible through various grants like the Michigan REACH program. Michigan Works Success Coach Lisa Temple said the REACH grant is just one grant that helped fund the summit.

“That’s a grant that focuses just on helping people get trained and into careers in health care. We also have the Michigan Industrial Cluster grant that is funding a couple of collaboratives we’re getting started,” Temple said.

Bur says that she considers this summit today phase 1 of conversations like this, and collaboration is the key to alleviating the workforce issue.

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