Southwest Health Outpaces National Healthcare Trends in Practitioner Recruitment

Defying national trends Southwest Health in Platteville continues recruiting high caliber doctors and advanced medical practitioners and building an ever-larger, ever-stronger Medical Staff. In hospitals across the country, the health care workforce is registering increasingly larger gaps between job openings and new hires in positions across the board, but Southwest Health is successfully growing and setting the standards for rural health care with the announcement of no fewer than five new recruits on the heels of other recent additions.

Physician Assistant Chelsea DeMuth, PA-C, is the newest member of the team, now seeing patients in Urgent Care as well as in the family medicine clinics in Platteville. This summer Colonel Dr. Jeffrey Kueter, MC, FS, USAF, will join the Family Medical Team at the Platteville Clinic while optometrist Dr. Jenny Belken, OD, will join the professional staff at the Eye Center in Platteville and Lancaster. Additionally, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Jenna Palzkill, CRNA will soon join the surgical team, and Orthopedic Surgeon Ting Zhang, MD will join the team at the Orthopedic Institute at Southwest Health in Platteville in September, 2020. Other recent additions include Family Physician Chris Wells, MD, and General Surgeon Scott Houghton, MD, who both joined Southwest Health in the last 18 months.

“We’re here to care for our communities and create a healthier southwest Wisconsin,” says CEO Dan Rohrbach. “The top-notch professionals we’re bringing to our area are joining a highly skilled and experienced team dedicated to excellence. The strength of our staff is unprecedented, and when you’re really good at what you do, that attracts others who value that level of excellence.”

In recent years, Southwest Health has made sizeable investments in technology, facilities, and people, including a $7 million, 20,000 square foot addition to house a new Women’s Center and Orthopedic Institute as well as last year’s $4.7 million expansion of its surgical department, adding space, technology, and staff. Southwest Health has also increased its employed Medical Staff from just two several years ago to 49 practitioners and growing today.

“Our team is proud to be national leaders in health care quality, patient experience, and employee engagement, but we’re even more proud to be making an impact on the health of people here at home and quality of life in our area,” says Rohrbach.

A 2017 Wisconsin Hospital Association survey of health care executives identified workforce shortages, including physician shortages, as one of the top three biggest threats to continuing to provide high-quality health care. Only 8% of Wisconsin CEOs surveyed believe Wisconsin will have enough physicians in ten years to meet the health care demands of an aging population. State and national data support Wisconsin hospital CEO’s concerns about workforce shortages. Since 2014, a confluence of factors has joined together – the aging population, retirements of baby boomer health care personnel, payments to hospitals, and the economy in general – to create a swelling gap between job openings and new hires. This poses significant challenges for hospitals and other health care organizations now and in the future.

Says Rohrbach, “It takes all of us in every job at Southwest Health to set the highest standards for performance and outcomes, and in doing that, we ensure we are the health care organization of choice for patients and for the health care workforce alike.” Rohrbach indicates Southwest Health’s recruiting success continues unabated with several other commitments from physicians too early to officially announce.

The most recent addition, Chelsea DeMuth, PA-C, comes to Southwest Health from the Gundersen Health System in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse in 2015 and earned her Masters of Physician Assistant Studies Degree from Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa in 2017. A Wisconsin native, she says, “It feels especially good to be back providing great family care in the same area I was raised.”

Colonel (Dr.) Jeffrey Kueter is originally from Platteville and currently the Master Academician and Director of Medical Education for the 96th Medical Group, Eglin Air Force Base, FL, where he applies his twenty-plus years of Military Medicine experience to provide exceptional patient care and instruct, guide and mentor Family Medicine teaching faculty, residents, and medical students. Dr. Kueter has practiced and is current in the full-scope of Military Family Medicine, including outpatient medicine, inpatient medicine, procedural medicine, obstetrics, and combat casualty care. His medical experience also includes a combat zone deployment to Baghdad, Iraq and numerous medical contingency planning trips across the globe, including austere locations in Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia. Colonel Kueter graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1994. In 1998, he earned his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and went on to complete a Family Medicine Residency at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, where he was selected as Chief Resident. Colonel Kueter is a fully qualified Air Force Flight Surgeon and earned his wings through the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine in Dayton, OH.

Jenny Belken, OD, is a Cuba City, Wisconsin native who knows Southwest Health well, having worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant from 2012 to 2014. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 2015 and will complete her Doctorate of Optometry this May from the University of Missouri’s College of Optometry in Saint Louis, Missouri. In July, she will join ophthalmologist Mary Jo Oyen, MD, and optometrists Nicole Klein, OD, and Thaddeus Wontor, OD, at the Eye Center of Platteville and Lancaster.

Jenna Palzkill, CRNA will soon join the current team of three Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists on the Southwest Health surgical team. Originally from Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Palzkill completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (with honors) from the University of Wisconsin – Madison before earning her Masters of Science in Nurse Anesthesia from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences College of Medicine in 2011. Since graduating, she’s provided anesthesia for outpatient and inpatient surgical procedures at Dean Clinic/SSM Health Care in Madison.

Ting Zhang, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon who will join Dr. Joshua Lindsey in the Orthopedic Institute in the summer of 2020. She completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry with distinction at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before earning her Medical Degree from Saint Louis University of Medicine in Saint Louis, Missouri in 2014. She is currently completing her residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin and comes with a wealth of research, leadership, and academic awards and accomplishments as well as broad experience in a wide range of health care services in addition to her expertise in orthopedics.




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