Building a Healthier Milwaukee

March 15, 2017

United Health Foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin are creating a program to provide real-time care coordination, behavioral health services and support for new and expectant mothers across southeast Wisconsin.

United Health Foundation (UHF) is partnering with a number of programs using innovative methods to positively impact underserved communities and empower people to make positive choices for a healthy lifestyle.

In Wisconsin, the shortage of registered nurses — described by Wisconsin's Public Policy Forum as "one of the greatest workforce challenges facing the health care industry — and employers as a whole" — affects health care services at all levels and is projected to increase as experienced nurses retire. The report calls for a 24 percent increase in registered nurses in the state by 2020.

UHF is aiming to reduce the nursing shortage by partnering with the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and all four Milwaukee hospital systems to increase the number of students admitted to MATC's nursing program by 300 over three years.

In addition to investing in the future health care workforce, improving the communities in which we live and work means creating programs to improve women's health and birth outcomes, and reducing health disparities. According to the 2016 America's Health Rankings® Health of Women and Children Report, more than 14 percent of women ages 18 to 44 in Wisconsin use alcohol during pregnancy, signaling a need for increased substance-abuse consultation and access to care during these critical months.

To guarantee primary care providers in Milwaukee are equipped to help new and expectant mothers, UHF's partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin will provide immediate, real-time peer-to-peer teleconsultation services to more than 350 primary care providers across Milwaukee. These efforts will ensure moms have access to needed services, including specialty perinatal psychiatric care.

In addition to Milwaukee, UHF is partnering with local programs in Houston and Hartford to positively impact underserved communities.