UnityPoint Health-Meriter announces health care training facility to counter staffing shortages

MADISON, Wis. — One of Madison’s major health care providers announced Tuesday plans to open a new training facility to better equip the local workforce amid declining retention rates that have only become worse since the pandemic’s onset.

“Our entire industry has been working through a whole lot the past three years, and we all know that,” James Arnett, UnityPoint Health-Meriter’s president and CEO, said. “A lot of issues, but one of the most significant has been our health care worker shortage that we’ve all felt in some way, shape, or form.”

UnityPoint Health-Meriter’s latest solution for the widespread staffing problem is the Jeff Levy Education Center — an educational training facility that will help train nurses in various specialties, offer new programming for community members seeking a career in the field, and provide educational resources for the community as a whole.

In addition to training resources, the new facility will house parts of Meriter’s new team member onboarding process.

Jeff Levy, who donated $1.2 million to the project, said he felt urged to contribute after seeing how hard health care workers worked to keep people healthy throughout the pandemic.

“When people ask why I’ve been so inspired to support health care and health care workers over the years, my answer is simple: Everyone has a personal connection to health care, whether it be themselves or their family,” Levy said. “Good health and access to good health care are things that we treasure.”

While the facility is not yet fully funded, Levy’s donation put Meriter just shy of it’s $2.5 million goal. Staff have also launched a fundraising campaign to raise the remainder of the funds. Those interested in donating to the campaign can do so online.

Officials with Meriter said the facility is currently in phase one of two and is on track to open next summer.