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October 21, 2014

ThedaCare Sheds Light on Future of Healthcare Ripon

ThedaCare leaders are committed to bringing the future of healthcare to light, meeting today with business and community leaders to discuss changes in healthcare at the first 2014 Berlin/Ripon Community Conversation.

Healthcare Leaders Meet with Berlin and Ripon Community Leaders for Annual Community Conversation

ThedaCare leaders are committed to bringing the future of healthcare to light, meeting today with business and community leaders to discuss changes in healthcare at the first 2014 Berlin/Ripon Community Conversation.

Held at the Ripon College Heritage Room, the annual event is an opportunity for ThedaCare leaders to share information about the past year as well as look ahead to coming changes while listening to concerns and answering questions. This year’s Community Conversation is the first one in the area since Community Health Network (CHN) and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital affiliated with ThedaCare earlier this year.

Today’s discussion focused on consumerism, team-based healthcare, and the shift in emphasis from treating sick people to keeping people healthy. ThedaCare CEO and President Dean Gruner, MD, said staying informed on healthcare issues is challenging since there are so many changes.

“We want to shed a light on what’s happening now and what it all means. Everyone is feeling these changes whether it’s from legislation or shifts in insurance coverage,” Dr. Gruner said. “Many of these changes are hitting patients right in the wallet – everyone needs to be smarter than ever when it comes to their healthcare.”

Dr. Gruner said one way patients can be smarter is by making healthier choices, whether it’s exercising more, quitting smoking, eating healthier or making sure they’re taking care of a chronic condition.

“When you look at a person’s health, some of it is genetic, but a lot is tied to the lifestyle choices someone makes. An estimated 70 percent of healthcare costs are related to lifestyle choices,” he said. “For example, being overweight can lead to a number of health conditions, such as heart problems and diabetes. ThedaCare’s mission is to help our communities be healthier and we’re focusing on helping people make healthier choices in their daily lives.”

Community Health Network’s Read Run Reach program is one way that encourages people to make healthier decisions. Read Run Reach is offered in all public and private elementary schools in Green Lake County and encourages an estimated 1,700 students to read 12 books, run 12 miles and do 12 random acts of kindness during a 12-week period.

“The program address literacy, being physically active and being kind – qualities that are part of being a well-rounded person and to have a balanced life,” said CHN Wellness Coordinator Pamela Alf. “We also do pep assemblies at the schools and talk about healthy choices.”

Alf said students earned small prizes through their participation in the program, with the last item being a cinch backpack they can use to carry around their library books.

As part of the Green Lake County Wellness Coalition, CHN sponsored a summit on heroin use in the county just last week. More than 500 people came out to hear from a panel of experts about the presence of drugs in the community and what to look for, Alf said. “This was all about awareness and educating people in our community about the realities of what’s going on and that drugs are here,” she said.

Consumerism was another theme of this morning’s event, with people having greater decision-making power than ever before over their insurance coverage and where to seek care, Dr. Gruner said

“Americans now are becoming consumers in healthcare. Employers are letting workers decide what insurance plan to choose, what doctor to see while at the same time other people are out there on the exchanges making those same decisions,” he said. “Americans are paying more for their health needs. At ThedaCare, we are doing our best to be as transparent as possible with our pricing and working closely with insurance companies to help patients get the best care for their money.”

One way ThedaCare is helping patients get the most for their healthcare dollars is its new team-based care model the health system will be piloting in a couple of its primary care clinics, said Joseph Longo, DO, a family medicine physician with CHN Medical Center-Ripon.

Complex patients will have their needs met by not just a single doctor, but rather a team of healthcare professionals including nurses, pharmacists, care coordinators, behavioral health specialists and others. Boundaries, such as the walls of the clinic, will be eliminated, too. For example the care coordinator can set up a tablet computer at the home of a patient with mobility issues, who can have face-to-face conversations with her care team, and upload vital information, such as blood sugar levels.

During the event, Dr. Longo also introduced pediatrician Andrew Collins, MD, who is now seeing patients at the Ripon clinic.

ThedaCare also gives back to the communities it serves by providing $40,204,848 in unreimbursed services, including unreimbursed medical care, health professional education, and community benefit activities, to local communities in 2013. Locally, there was $6 million worth of community benefit.

ThedaCare already held Community Conversations in Oshkosh, Shawano, the Fox Cities, New London and Waupaca and will hold events in the coming weeks in Wild Rose.

Anyone wishing to receive a print copy of today’s report can contact Paula Morgen, community health manager for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5848 or

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of seven hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca, Community Memorial Hospital in Berlin, and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.