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January 19, 2016

ThedaCare Named as Finalist for 2015 Foster G McGaw Prize for Exemplary Community Service

In recognition of its broad-based efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of its community, ThedaCare has been named one of four national finalists for the prestigious 2015 Foster G. McGaw Prize, one of health care’s most prestigious honors for excellence in community service. As a finalist, ThedaCare will receive $10,000 to be used to support their community health initiatives.

In recognition of its broad-based efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of its community, ThedaCare has been named one of four national finalists for the prestigious 2015 Foster G. McGaw Prize, one of health care’s most prestigious honors for excellence in community service. As a finalist, ThedaCare will receive $10,000 to be used to support their community health initiatives.

The Foster G. McGaw Prize is sponsored by The Baxter International Foundation, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Health Research & Educational Trust. This year marks the award’s 30th anniversary. ThedaCare also was a finalist for the 2008 Foster G. McGaw Prize.

“ThedaCare has established a sustainable model of community health improvement that focuses on facilitating an inclusive community process,” said John O’Brien, chair of the Foster G. McGaw Prize Committee.

“We see our role in improving community health as that of a convener and facilitator,” said Dean Gruner, MD, ThedaCare president and CEO. “We know that systemic health issues in our community cannot be solved by our health care system alone. We’ve engaged with a variety of our stakeholders, including many community members who are most affected and informed about a problem, because we understand that they will have the most energy and passion to develop truly innovative, effective solutions to some of our community’s most significant health concerns. While ThedaCare gets the credit, this has actually been a community process. It’s truly a community award.”

A non-profit, community-owned healthcare system, ThedaCare serves nearly 560,000 people in 14 Northeast Wisconsin counties and is one of the region’s largest employers. The organization’s seven hospitals and 35 outpatient clinics serve more than 240,000 unique patients. Among other programs, ThedaCare was recognized for the following innovative community service initiatives:

  • Shawano Rural Health Initiative – This initiative was developed in response to a 2003 visit to a local dairy farm where farmers, insurers, agriculture business leaders and state farming experts helped 40 community leaders understand the healthcare plight of the farming community. It was created to improve access to health care, preventive services and community resources, improve occupational safety and increase healthy behaviors among farm families. The program is centered around the efforts of a rural health coordinator, who makes farm visits to provide free health risk assessments and offer health information and education, as well as referrals to area services.
  • P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C. – ThedaCare established the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth program to focus on the dangers of risky behaviors such as drinking and driving, lack of seat belt use and, more recently, texting and driving. More than 50,000 students have participated in the two-hour annual program at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (PAC) since 1998, and each year the number of students attending increases. Comparisons of pre- and post-surveys of the 2014 event indicate that students are 23 percent more likely to stop texting or talking on the phone when driving and 33 percent less like likely to ride in a vehicle with a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Voices of Men – Founded in 2007, this initiative brings together men who want to help end violence against women and children. More than 2,000 men and teenage boys have attended the program’s annual breakfast where attendees learn about simple everyday behaviors that can either degrade or show disrespect for women. More than 2,500 men and teenage boys have also taken the organization’s White Ribbon Pledge “never to commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women and children.”

“The Foster G. McGaw Prize recognizes health care organizations that serve as role models for improving the health and well-being of the people in their communities,” said O’Brien. “This year’s winner and finalists offer a broad spectrum of programs to improve health in and directly engage their specific communities. Their outstanding leadership and collaboration serve to improve physical and behavioral health – as well as address social determinants of health – and thus make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

The 2015 winner of the $100,000 Foster G. McGaw Prize is Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  In addition to ThedaCare, other finalists include Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and St. Joseph, Health Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, California.  

The Foster G. McGaw Prize, celebrating 30 years of honoring excellence in community service, recognizes healthcare organizations committed to community service through a range of programs that demonstrate a passion and continuous commitment to making communities healthier and more vital. The prize, first awarded in 1986, inspires hospitals, health systems and communities to assess and implement programs that improve their communities.  For more information, visit  

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 240,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 35 clinics in 14 counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  Construction of ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton is underway. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.  

The American Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association of healthcare provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information visit the website at  

Founded in 1944, the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) is a private, not-for-profit organization involved in research, education, and demonstration programs addressing health management and policy issues. An affiliate of the American Hospital Association, HRET collaborates with healthcare, government, academic, business, and community organizations across the United States to conduct research and disseminate findings that shape the future of healthcare. For more information about HRET, visit  

The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), helps organizations expand access to healthcare in the United States and around the world. The foundation, established in 1981, focuses exclusively on increasing access to healthcare particularly for the disadvantaged and underserved in communities where Baxter employees live and work. Baxter International Inc., through its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures and markets products that save and sustain the lives of people with hemophilia, immune disorders, cancer, infectious diseases, kidney disease, trauma and other chronic and acute medical conditions. As a global, diversified healthcare company, Baxter applies a unique combination of expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to create products that advance patient care worldwide. For more information, visit