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Wisconsin Nursing Assistant Shortage

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Wisconsin Nursing Assistant ShortageEAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — A shortage of nursing assistants in Wisconsin has the state launching a new program to recruit, train, and retain healthcare workers.

A federal grant through the Department of Health Services will allow the state to implement the Wisconsin Caregiver Program.

The program’s goal is to add up to 3,000 nurse aides to the workforce.
Dove Healthcare West says between 2012 and 2015 there was a decrease of around 5,000 nursing assistants entering the field.

The assisted living facility says adding 3,000 CNA’s to the workforce is a step in the right direction but won’t solve the problem.

Reginal nurse consultant Joey Pettis said, “Three-thousand will it help? Absolutely. Will it solve the crisis? No.”

Pettis says the $2.3 million federal investment into the program is a start to help stem Wisconsin’s healthcare worker crisis.

“Part of that is because of the decrease in the workforce in general and the other part is the decrease in young individuals entering the healthcare field,” explained Pettis.

According to data from DHS by 2040 the state’s 65 and older population is supposed to increase by 10 percent but in Wisconsin one in seven caregiver positions is vacant.

“What we’re doing in our facilities is having people work extra shifts, we don’t take admissions when we’re unable to,” added Pettis. “What that does is it backlogs the hospitals so it actually takes beds away from people who might need hospital beds because we don’t have the staff to care for them.”

DHS says the program will partner with the Wisconsin Technical College System to offer training and testing at no cost to students and also implement a $500 retention bonus for nurse aides after six months on the job.

“It’s very rewarding work but physically demanding and the wages aren’t strong as some other type positions with that education, said CVTC Associate Dean of Health Amy Olson.

Chippewa Valley Technical College says it hopes the program will also create awareness of the value of caregiving through its marketing and recruitment plan.

Olson added, “They are the backbone of what a lot of us other healthcare professionals do. CNA’S are sometimes the unspoken heroes.”

In a statement DHS told WEAU they’re excited to launch the program but that they’re still in the early stages.

The next step is to put together an implementation plan with DHS partners within the next few weeks to see how to attract more workers to the field.

Campaign Connects Prospective Hispanic Nursing Students With Mentors

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In a continued effort to help alleviate the nationwide shortage of Hispanic nurses, The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) and Hispanic Communications Network-La Red Hispana announced the launch of the third year of a national bilingual campaign to inform Hispanic men and women of all ages about careers in nursing.

NAHN Hispanic Nurse Campaign

The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) is a national non-profit association dedicated to promoting public health and the nursing profession for Hispanics in the United States. To learn more visit: Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

The campaign highlights the profiles of nursing students and provides access to Mentor Connection, a database of Latino nurses who can provide career guidance, advice, and cultural perspective to prospective nurses.

“Hispanic students looking for role models to encourage and guide their efforts often come up empty in their attempts to find mentors and a network of support,” says Alison Rodden, Chief Executive Officer of Hispanic Communications Network. “The Hispanics in Nursing campaign is committed to bridging those gaps and the Mentor Connection is a vital tool for the recruitment and retention of our Hispanic nursing workforce.”

The interviews will not only be available at Hispanics In Nursing but also in Spanish at Carreras En Enfermeria.

“Many jobs in nursing will be available in the coming years, one of them can open the doors for the professional advancement and personal success of many young men and women. This could be one of the best opportunities for our youth and this is our way to tell them: You are not alone,” said Angie Millan, former president of NAHN.

The campaign will run from January 12 to February 3 on La Red Hispana’s national radio affiliate network and online.

Originally posted on Latin Times

Las Cruces nurse recognized for helping distressed veteran

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Las Cruces nurse recognized for helping distressed veteranLAS CRUCES – Veterans Affairs health care officials recognized a Las Cruces nurse on Tuesday for her quick thinking and action in saving a patient’s life.

Linda M. Perez, a licensed vocational nurse at Las Cruces’ Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic, said she relied on a nurse’s intuition that something was wrong when a veteran didn’t show up for a scheduled appointment at the clinic in November.

“It was out of character for him because he was always very punctual for all of his appointments,” said Perez, who has been a VA nurse for four years, after working as a hairdresser for 23 years.

The patient, a Las Cruces resident who wasn’t identified by VA officials because federal privacy laws, suffers from diabetes and takes insulin to treat his illness. When he didn’t show up for his appointment, Perez called him. Speaking to him over a cell phone, Perez said she realized something was wrong when his speech was slow and he couldn’t provide details of his location.

“He was in his car, driving,” Perez said. “He sounded disoriented but aware of what he was doing. He couldn’t tell me where he was. So, I called 911, and we were finally able to get him to tell us the cross streets he was near.”

Later, it was determined the patient had gone into diabetic shock, and his blood sugar level had dropped sharply after taking insulin but failing to eat anything. Perez and emergency dispatchers were able to find the patient, who was taken to the hospital for treatment.

“He had a prior episode,” Perez recalled. “He had an appointment here at the clinic, for tests, when the same thing happened.”

Michael L. Amaral, director of the El Paso Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, praised Perez during the recognition ceremony.

“Everybody hears the not-so-good things. I want them to hear the great things happening here,” Amaral said. “Through her quick actions she was able to save a life.”

Crystal Davis-Whited, nurse manager at the Las Cruces VA clinic, added, “Imagine what could have happened if Linda hadn’t acted so quickly, and the patient had been involved in an accident.”

“It’s a nurse’s intuition,” said Lenore S. Enzel, nurse executive for the El Paso VA Healthcare System. “We get close with many of our patients, and a good nurse, like Linda, is able to determine when something isn’t right. We get to know our patients. Nurses just have a sixth sense. We’re all about observation.”

Amaral said the El Paso VA is becoming more proactive in the treatment and follow-up of veterans who require medical care, especially after the Jan. 6, 2015 fatal shootings of a doctor and a veteran at the El Paso VA clinic, adjacent to William Beaumont Army Medical Center, at Fort Bliss. He said the VA is committed to providing improved services to veterans.

“We’re working to do the right thing for our veterans,” said Amaral, a retired U.S. Army colonel.

Originally posted on Las Cruces Sun-News

Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452,, or @SteveRamirez6 on Twitter.

Nurse accused of stealing medication from veterans in Lake City, VA

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A local nurse is accused of stealing from veterans.

Action News Jax has been looking into this case for several weeks. We got our hands on part of the 89-page investigation into her actions.

The pages detail how nurse Michelle Lynn Harris took the drugs, including a month long stretch during which she removed more than 30 times the amount of drugs normally taken by nurses for patients. It all happened while she was supposed to be taking care of veterans in Lake City.

As a result, Harris’ nursing license has been suspended after she pleaded guilty to a felony for taking narcotics by fraud or forgery.

Harris was working as a registered nurse at the Lake City VA Medical Center.

“My father-in-law has been there several times. It’s pretty scary to be honest with you,” said Lake City resident Mark Rutter.

According to the investigation report, in May 2016 the medical center’s head nurse noticed drugs had been tampered with at the medical center. Department of Veterans Affairs police got involved and as records were checked, the investigation revealed on several occasions Harris had taken more drugs than needed for patients.

“I think it’s irresponsible and kind of selfish on her part,” said Lake City resident Jasmine Bray.

On May 17, 2016, records showed, Harris removed 12 5-milliliter cups of oxycodone. Only two of those cups were given to patients.

The investigation also found during a 30-day period, the average hydromorphone removal per nurse, excluding Harris, was three doses. During that same time period, Harris removed 95 doses. Only one of those was recorded as going to a patient.

“Oh my. … That is ridiculous,” Bray said.

Harris was interviewed by investigators and admitted to taking the drugs to self-medicate. According to her sworn statement, she would take the drugs to help her deal with pain so she could do her job because she is “in so much pain from arthritis.” Harris also said she never sold the drugs to anyone else and only used them while at work often taking them in the bathroom. She said, “I still my job to the best of my ability.”

In her statement, Harris also said she knew it was wrong and out of control and she wants help. Action News Jax reached out to the VA for a response about this incident.

Originally posted on CBS Action News Jax

Hospital selects nurse, CNA of the year

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Shanda Melton, Texas county Memorial Hospital's nurse of the year.

(Submitted Photo) Shanda Melton, Texas county Memorial Hospital’s nurse of the year.

Texas County Memorial Hospital announced special recognition this month for two of its nurses and certified nurse assistants.

Shanda Melton, of Mountain Grove, was named the 2016 nurse of the year and Modena Jones of Mountain Grove was selected the CNA of the Year. It is the second time Jones has received the honor.

All nurses and CNAs from nursing departments throughout TCMH were nominees for the annual nursing awards if they had worked at least two years at the hospital and have worked at least 1,040 hours over the past year. All TCMH employees were asked to vote for one nominee in each category. Awards were given based on the popular vote.

Melton, a registered nurse in the TCMH medical surgical department, has been employed by the hospital for six years.

John Sawyer, medical surgical department director, said Melton takes a leadership role on the medical surgical floor by taking responsibility for all patients and processes when she’s working.

“Shanda is a ‘go to’ person for the other members of the nursing staff,” Sawyer said.  “She works with the students from all the schools that send our students to us, and I regularly use her as a preceptor for new nursing hires.”

Melton also sees certain patients in their homes following their discharge from TCMH as part of the TCMH house call program for patients that are likely to be re-admitted.

“Shanda’s compassion for our patients is above and beyond,” Sawyer said.

Jones is a certified nurse assistant in the TCMH medical surgical department. She has worked at TCMH for 11 years.

“Modena’s work ethic is the best you can have,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer described Jones as a well-rounded CNA that provides “great customer service and gets done every job that needs to be done.”

“Modena is a great patient advocate, and she is not afraid to speak up to others about what she believes her patients need,” Sawyer said. “She helps everyone.”

The nurse and CNA of the year received $250 cash, a plaque, engraved crystal trophy and fresh flowers.

Also during the week, a mandatory nursing skills lab was provided for the nursing staff.  Eleven stations provided education — some of which was hands on — on topics such as wound care, patient restraints, fetal heart tones, infection control and pharmacology.

Scrubs and Beyond of St. Louis allowed nurses and other employees the opportunity to shop for uniforms during the day.

On Friday, breakfast or lunch was served to all members of the TCMH nursing staff.

TCMH employs 126 nurses and 23 CNAs.  The nurses and their assistants work in many departments of the hospital—medical surgical, obstetrics, emergency room, surgery, intensive care, home health, hospice and clinics.

BPCC Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program Begins Wednesday, June 8

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Bossier Parish Community College - CNA ProgramBossier Parish Community College’s (BPPC) Certified Nurse Assistant program will begin its summer 2016 classes beginning Wednesday, June 8 through August 25 – Monday through Thursday. Seating is limited. Class time is from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

This program prepares one to work with long-term care patients, such as those in nursing homes and home health care. Instruction includes medical terminology, health care safety, patient care lecture, patient care studies, practice lab situations, and on-site clinical.

Applicants are required to provide the following prior to enrollment:

  1. Copy of high school diploma or GED certificate
  2. A criminal history record through the Louisiana State Police
  3. Background Check Policy Consent Agreement

Upon successful completion of the program, the student will receive a certificate of completion and be recognized as a Certified Nurse Assistant in Louisiana. The student must complete all coursework with a grade C or better and score at least 70% on the final exam to successfully complete the program.

Cost of the program is $ 849. Course books and CPR certification are included in the course price. A split payment option is available. Stop by the Workforce Development & Continuing Education Office in Building D, Suite 134 for more information. Split payment option not available online. There is a minimum age of 18 for the class.

To register, contact BPCC’s Continuing Education Office at (318) 678-6015 or register online at

Veteran doctor, rookie nurse practitioner share office and insights at West Duluth Clinic

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Nurse Assistant - West Duluth Clinic

Photo from Duluth News Tribune

With about 1,300 patients and Tuesdays off, Dr. Stephen Carlson isn’t always available.

“Right now, people have a hard time getting in to see me,” said Carlson, 65, a family doctor with 39 years of experience, most of them at Essentia Health’s West Duluth Clinic.

All the more so because many patients want to see him.

“He’s a very popular physician because of the people that know him here and the great experiences they’ve had,” said Julie Newman, Essentia system’s director for primary care.

But now, Carlson’s patients can see him without really seeing him.

Carlson explained recently, holding up an 8-by-4-inch sheet of heavy-stock paper — labeled “My team” — that includes photos of himself, Dr. Rhett Bonner and nurse practitioner Mark Wiita.

“When I show this to patients I say: ‘This is me, and these are the two people who are going to be offered an appointment if you can’t see me,’ ” Carlson said. “Because I’m not always here.”

It’s called “Primary Care Home,” and it’s a model Essentia has put into place not only in West Duluth but in all of the sprawling health system’s clinics across parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho.


It’s a response to a reality that is true virtually everywhere: There aren’t enough primary care doctors to go around, and the shortage will grow even more apparent as the population ages.

“We can’t recruit enough primary physicians out there for the aging population,” Newman said. “There aren’t enough coming out of school to meet our demand.”

The numbers back that up. Two years ago, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation published a report contending that only 60 percent of the need for primary doctors in the U.S. was filled as of April 28, 2014, and more than 8,000 physicians were needed to fill the gap. Minnesota was just less than 60 percent of the need met; Wisconsin was at about 71 percent.

The Robert Graham Center, in a 2013 report, projected Minnesota would need nearly 1,200 additional primary care providers by 2030 to meet a demand that’s growing because of population growth and aging.

“We are in an acute shortage of primary care physicians,” said Terry Hill, senior adviser for rural health leadership at the Duluth-based National Rural Health Resource Center.

Meanwhile, most medical schools continue to funnel their students toward specialties, Hill said — although the Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota Medical School is an exception.

The only way to fill the gap, Hill said, is for primary care doctors to work “at the top of their licenses,” allowing nurse practitioners, physician assistants and health educators to handle more basic care.

Essentia Health reached that conclusion in 2007, Newman said, and during the past two years has vigorously implemented its plan for primary health care homes.


At the West Duluth Clinic, that meant recruiting Wiita and a physician assistant, said Nancy Dettle, the clinic’s administrator. Dettle was the matchmaker for the clinic’s four teams, each consisting of two doctors and either a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant.

Carlson, the longer-established doctor, has a heavier patient load than Bonner, so Wiita is more likely to see Carlson’s patients. And Carlson, who used to have a small office to himself, now shares a small office with Wiita. Each works at a computer facing opposite walls and has just enough room to swivel around in his chair and talk with the other.

The tight quarters don’t bother him, Carlson said.

“For me, it was easy,” he said. “Now I have the ability to banter.”

They’ve only been office partners since August, but Carlson and Wiita have a history.

Wiita, who is 50 but looks like he’s in his 30s, had an earlier career as a pharmaceutical representative and got to know Carlson when he would pay visits to the West Duluth Clinic.

He felt that he was called to a different line of work in the health care field, Wiita said.

“So with my wife’s support, which is really important, I went back to school,” said Wiita, who is the father of three children. “It was the best move I ever made.”

Wiita first earned a degree as a registered nurse at the College of St. Scholastica and later returned to complete his advanced practice training. A rookie when he was paired with Carlson in August, Wiita said it has been a good start to his career as an NP.

“I’m really happy I’m here with this guy,” Wiita said. “He’s a great teacher. He teaches, and he’s willing to share.”


They don’t see patients together, and much of the time that Wiita and Carlson are together is when they both happen to be in their office, filling out reports. But there’s a lot of talk back and forth between the two men. Carlson might fill Wiita in on a longtime patient he’s about to see. Wiita might ask Carlson to look at an X-ray with him, or ask what to do with certain lab results, Carlson said.

Recently, Carlson said, a man came into the office after his wife expressed concern about a growth on his leg. Wiita looked at it, then asked Carlson what he thought.

“And I looked at it and said: ‘That’s got to come off,’ ” Carlson related.

It turned out that the patient had a malignant melanoma and will need additional treatment, Carlson said.

If Carlson’s experience is one part of the equation, Wiita’s fresh perspective is the other.

“I try to keep up with the fresh stuff,” Carlson said. “But Mark doesn’t have the old stuff behind him to be interfering with the new stuff.”

Wiita is particularly good, Carlson said, in chronic disease management.

“When we’re dealing with chronic disease, for example, hypertension or diabetes, there’s a lot of expectations on how to get patients to a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “And so I can’t do it all, and so we kind of team play. Mark helps me and I help him and between the two of us we try to get these patients managed.”

It sometimes can be a matter of hearing the same message from a different messenger, Wiita said.

“Sometimes I just might have a different way of delivering something that he’s told them 100 times, and they might just hear it different from me,” Wiita said.


Carlson, old enough to retire but with no plans to do so, said he doesn’t feel threatened about sharing his practice.

“I’m at that place of realizing there’s a limit to what I can do,” he said.

The camaraderie is true of all the recently formed teams at the West Duluth Clinic, Dettle said.

“I just this clinic overall is a happy group of physicians,” she said.

The goal at the West Duluth Clinic, as it is at others in the system, is to see every patient who wants to be seen on the same day, Dettle said.

Given that the average patient sees a primary care provider 2.5 times a year, that couldn’t happen without the primary care home model, Newman said.

But the model also provides consistency in a patient’s treatment, she said. “There’s a lot of advantages when patients know they have that team there taking care of them. It’s not going to be random who they’re going to see.”

The partnerships respond to something that’s present in many doctors, Newman said.

“I think physicians like to teach,” she said. “And they like to share their knowledge and experience. I think it gives you job satisfaction. There’s a lot of studies out there that show teamwork, working collaboratively with someone else, gives you job satisfaction.”

Although he doesn’t care for the behind-the-scenes paperwork, Carlson still finds his job satisfying, he said. But he’s happy to share the load with Wiita.

“And patients are good with coming in to see him,” Carlson added. “I said his job is to steal every one of my patients.”

Originally posted at the Duluth News Tribune here.

Veterinary Technician Training Programs

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Congratulations on your decision to become a veterinary technician.  The veterinary technician occupation is expanding quickly and veterinary technician training programs are always looking for new students.  In general, veterinary technician is an excellent career option.  Veterinary technician salary is very competitive and degree programs are short.  Finding a veterinary technician school that’s right for you can sometimes be frustrating.  We hope the information below will help you make a more informed choice!

Veterinary Technician Salary

veterinary-technician-salaryAccording to the BLS, the average veterinary technician salary  $14.56 per hour, or approximately $30,290 per year.  Salary is based on a variety of factors.  The most common factors include education, location and experience.

By finishing a veterinary technician training program you will be prepared to earn this competitive salary.

Training Programs

Most veterinary technician programs require an associate’s degree in veterinary technology.  There are other programs that may require less training.  The department that monitors licenses and certifications for veterinary technicians is different in each state.  It’s important to request information from each veterinary technician program and inquire about their services.

Job Outlook

veterinary-technician-jobsThe veterinary technician occupation is experiencing rapid job growth.  The BLS projects that veterinary technician jobs will grow by 30%, creating more than 33,000 new veterinary technician jobs over the next decade.

Now is the right time to request information from top veterinary technician schools!

Phlebotomy Certification

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A phlebotomist is a healthcare professional that is trained in the procedure of extracting blood from donors and patients.  Before you can begin work as a phlebotomist, you have to finish the phlebotomy certification process.  Phlebotomy courses are short, salary is very competitive, and future job outlook is positive.  Today is the best moment to start your healthcare career as a phlebotomist!

Why Become a Phlebotomist?

Quick Training Programs. The majority of phlebotomy certification courses can be completed within a couple months.  That means you can start working and earning income immediately!

Decent Wages. You won’t get rich working as a phlebotomist.  But you can start earning a good steady income very quickly.  Also, many phlebotomists go on to become medical or nursing professionals.

Good Future Job Growth. Many health care and medical related jobs are growing rapidly.  As a phlebotomist you have a safe career for the future.  Becoming a phlebotomist is a great long term decision.

Phlebotomy Salary

Average Phlebotomy Technician SalaryAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average phlebotomy salary is $29,730 per year, or about $14 per hour.  Salary rates can be affected by many different factors. The common factors that affect phlebotomy salary are location, experience and education.

Top Paying States

These are the top 5 states with highest phlebotomy salary:

  1. Alaska – $38,540
  2. District of Columbia – $37,820
  3. New York – $37,790
  4. California – $37,770
  5. Maryland – $37,190

Phlebotomy Jobs

Phelbotomy Jobs OutlookHealth care jobs are expanding quickly and the phlebotomist occupation is no different.  The BLS has projected phlebotomy jobs to grow by 27% over the next 10 years.  This could result in thousands of new phlebotomy jobs in your area!

Australian Assistants without Nursing Experience Authorized to Draw Blood

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Blood DonorBlood donors will be increasingly cared for by assistants without nursing qualifications under controversial changes being carried out by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service that have sparked concerns about quality of care.

Nursing assistants who receive significantly less training and payment than university-trained registered nurses have this year started putting needles into donors, administering intravenous drugs and monitoring people for adverse reactions at Victorian, Tasmanian and Queensland collection centers.

Donor Safety

Secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Lisa Fitzpatrick, said she was concerned about how this would impact on the safety of donors and the mix of nurses and assistants caring for them.

While the Blood Service insists that registered nurses will still be caring for donors and overseeing their treatment, Ms Fitzpatrick said the service’s management had been “dismissive” of the qualifications of registered nurses and enrolled nurses who generally receive three years and 18 months’ training respectively.

“We view the blood service as a vital part of the health care services. Unfortunately, the Blood Service has described itself to us as more akin to a manufacturing plant. We consider this to be alarming,” she said.

University-trained “registered nurses” and TAFE-trained “enrolled nurses” have traditionally been the main carers of blood donors in Australia, but in 2010 the blood service started employing “nursing assistants” to take needles out of donors and monitor them.

Since 2013, these assistants who earn a maximum of $45,000 after completing about six months of part time study, have been progressively allowed to complete extra training in blood collection and first aid to take on more tasks.

Nurse Salary

The 2012 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement shows enrolled nurses earn a maximum annual salary of $54,000 and registered nurses $71,000.

Executive Director of Donor Services Janine Wilson said the service was changing its workforce because of forecast nursing shortages and to improve waiting times for donors. She said it was not an “economical decision”.

“The Blood Service, along with other health organizations, is acting now to ensure we have a sustainable workforce in our donor collection centers so we can continue collecting blood without interruption,” she said.

One nurse who works for the service said she was concerned the move was a cost cutting exercise that could undermine the high quality of care that keeps unpaid donors coming back. She said some nursing assistants lacked the experience to comfortably insert needles and pick up on signs that suggest a donor is unwell.

“There will always be at least one nurse on the donation floor while people are donating, but there are two main issues with this; the nurse is usually busy, and the DSNA (nursing assistant) often doesn’t recognize that they need help until they’re a long way out of their depth. You don’t know what you don’t know,” said the nurse, who did not want to be named.

But Ms Wilson said data from states where nursing assistants had been taking blood showed no impact on donor safety.

“In fact, anecdotal feedback from staff in those states is that having more skilled people on the donor centre floor results in reduced waiting times for donors,” she said.

Ms Wilson said the service currently employed 449 registered nurses, 397 enrolled nurses and 204 nursing assistants.

Original article published 4/1/15 by The Age.