No doubt you’ve heard that ThedaCare is on the move. This week we announced a board-approved launch of an exploration about the future of healthcare in all the communities we serve. The discussion includes the possibility of bringing together our two Fox Cities hospitals into one premier, regional healthcare destination that will provide the highest quality care at the lowest cost for generations to come.
From my perspective, it’s an extension of the exploration our community began long ago and has enthusiastically continued through a steady stream of improvements that have enhanced our quality of life over the years. In November 2002, for example, when the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center opened, the region gained a cultural asset that strengthened Appleton’s downtown and added to our appeal to businesses and top talent. Our schools have continuously invested in technology, vital building expansions and strong teachers. Today, our community is moving forward with the Fox Cities Exhibition Center, and yet another opportunity to draw business and new workers to the area.
With the community, ThedaCare also is getting ready for the future. We’re exploring the creation of a plan across all our facilities that allows us to be the best stewards of community resources, so we can deliver the kind of locally owned care your employees and their families will need to get and stay healthy 20, 30, 40 and more years from now.
In this column last month I shared some of the ways healthcare is changing, and the trends we’re watching. Among those trends is an area in which ThedaCare has been a long-time leader: Moving an industry based on illness toward a focus on health. I touched on some of the many layers of that equation in January, and facilities are certainly a factor.
Since the future of healthcare clearly will require different space and capabilities, the goal of this exploration is to look for new ways to dramatically improve quality and reduce costs. Our board has made it clear: Any future proposal that fails to meet either of those objections will not advance. Our aim is to take our very good work to a whole new level, a whole new frontier, to provide great, efficient care for our children and grandchildren, and their children. We’re starting from a very high point, with a rich history of high quality, low cost care.
We’ve earned “Best of” awards at our Fox Cities hospitals for years running, and been recognized for providing the highest quality, lowest cost care in the country. And yet, Theda Clark Medical Center is 107 years old and Appleton Medical Center is 58 years old. It’s eye-opening to realize that the routine treatments and resources we take for granted today – like anesthesia, sutures and a blood bank – would have saved Theda Clark Peter’s life in 1903. But they didn’t exist. The result of her untimely death was that her family and community had the foresight and commitment to make a dramatic investment in improving community health – just like we’re doing with this exploration.
After more than a year of study and analysis, we’re inviting you to explore with us how we can move our community forward, as we’ve always done.
Soon we’ll be sharing how you can engage in this conversation through multiple opportunities for dialogue, listening and learning. You can get started by sending me an email today. I look forward to exploring this next frontier together!
Dean Gruner is president and CEO of Appleton-based ThedaCare. To send your thoughts him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.