‘Perfect storm’ hits Winneshiek County Public Health – Staffing shortage forces county agency to decertify home healthcare services

By Zach Jensen,

In the 85 years since Winneshiek County Public Health’s (WCPH) inception, the agency has provided healthcare services to countless county residents. But recently, due to what WCPH Agency Administrator Krista Vanden Brink called “the perfect storm”, the agency is being forced to decertify its home health.

“We’ve had baby boomers who are retiring, and nursing and medical schools haven’t been able to put out enough providers, nurses or doctors, because of a shortage of nursing faculty,” said Vanden Brink, who has been an RN with the agency since 1998. “And, then we had the pandemic. We’ve lost a lot of people.”

Vanden Brink said the storm hit WCPH in April when one longtime staffer retired, one home care aide left and two nurses resigned. Because the agency suddenly became short-staffed, Vanden Brink said the agency didn’t have much of a choice.

The Iowa Health and Human Services (IHHS) regional community health consultant said WCPH could either continue to try to appeal to potential staffers, or they could begin the decertification process. 

Vanden Brink said the final day WCPH will provide home health services is June 30.

“Public Health is still here, and we have every intention of being here,” Vanden Brink said. Vanden Brink said the agency will continue doing flu shots, the foot clinic and other services as well as act as a local health information hub for county residents.

Full article can be found in the June 6 Decorah Public Opinion newspaper.

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