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September 16, 2014

ThedaCare Sheds Light on Future of Healthcare Waupaca

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 2014 Waupaca Community Conversation.

Healthcare Leaders Meet with Waupaca Business, 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 2014 Waupaca Community Conversation.

Held at the Waupaca Ale House, 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 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.”

Supporting “Drug Take Back Day” in Waupaca County is one example of ThedaCare’s community involvement. Waupaca’s Community Health Action Team (CHAT) identified drug and alcohol usage as one of the areas of local concern and decided to enhance the county’s drug collection’s marketing campaign using ThedaCare’s help. During April 2014, seven locations collected more than 400 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs, with four of the sites seeing their collections increase by more than 50 percent from the previous year.

“ThedaCare’s support of the initiative was great. On the CHAT team, we identified drug and alcohol abuse as an area we wanted to do more in and we worked on several education pieces and ThedaCare helped us better market the collection, which was a big success,” said Jay Krcmar of Farmers State Bank in Waupaca. “Our success with the drug collection is now spurring us to do more education about heroin use. ThedaCare has been a wonderful supporter of these grassroots efforts and helping to make a difference.”

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. 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 get eliminated, too. For example the care coordinator will set up a tablet computer at the home of a patient with mobility issues, so she can have face-to-face conversations with her care team, and upload vital information, such as blood sugar levels.

“Team-based care is all about the patient and her needs. We uniquely tailor the care for each patient, deciding the best treatment options and scheduling for the situation,” said Daniel Sutton, MD, a family medicine practitioner with ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca. “We use technology, such as our electronic medical records to keep everyone – not just the medical doctor, but the others working with the patient – updated and informed.”

Dr. Sutton said team-based care is especially helpful when patients have multiple health concerns, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and behavioral health concerns. “It’s also good for the patient to hear the same message – such as quitting smoking or losing weight – from different people in different ways since that will help solidify its importance to the patients,” he said. “Patients will also identify a team of providers that they’re working with – it’s not just about the doctor so they know there are other people they can turn to if they have questions.”

Consumerism was another theme of this morning’s event, with people having greater decision-making power than ever before over their insurance coverages 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.”

The only community- and locally owned healthcare provider in the Fox Cities and Oshkosh, ThedaCare is active in the communities it serves. From building two community gardens in New London to the Eat Smart initiative for Fox Cities restaurants, ThedaCare works with local leaders to address local health concerns.

“It all comes back to our mission of building healthier communities,” Dr. Gruner said. “There are some issues, such as obesity which are a concern in all of our communities, but there are other issues that are more local, which is why we have our CHAT in place to dive into local issues and develop solutions, such as prescription drug use in Waupaca.” 

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.

ThedaCare already held a Community Conversation in Oshkosh and will hold events in the coming weeks in Fox Cities, Ripon/Berlin, New London, Shawano, and 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 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.