Dane Co. allocates $600K+ for health care workers’ mental health

Dane Co. nurses are looking ahead to the county-funded Trauma Recovery Program, designed in part to support health care workers’ mental health.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 5:21 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Dane Co. nurses are looking ahead to the county-funded Trauma Recovery Program, designed in part to support health care workers’ mental health.

The 2023 county budget designates $621,700 to the mental health initiative. Budget amendment papers also show the funds will go towards workforce development in the local health care industry.

“I’ve always said, our health care workers take care of everyone, but we need someone to take care of us too. It’s like that lifeboat we’ve been looking for,” Amanda Klinge, a registered nurse at UW Health, said.

Klinge admitted, caring for her mental wellbeing has not been easy recently. It’s the reason she took weeks off of work this year.

“It still has rewarding days,” she said. “It’s still the career that I chose and love. But sometimes it’s a lot harder. People are angrier and less patient with us.”

Klinge shared her story with Dane Co. leaders, helping to include the Trauma Recovery Program in next year’s budget.

The program’s cost is just 2 percent of the $30 million figure a health care workers’ union first recommended in January.

SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin President Pat Raes wrote to NBC15 Wednesday, in part: “Creating concrete policy and program changes is a process that always involves negotiations, and the county has many worthwhile demands on their budget. The Trauma Recovery funding we achieved provides a solid foundation that stakeholders -- including healthcare workers, our union, employers, government, educators and advocates -- will build on in years to come.”

“Is it enough? I don’t know,” Klinge said. “I think we’re grateful for anything right now because no one’s been really looking at trying to do anything so far.”

Details from the budget amendment show the money would go towards activities like a free telephone hotline and a support group for health care workers. For workforce development, funds would create a training program for health care providers who want to do “wellness work” with peers in the industry.

The county budget was recently approved for $853 million.

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