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February 24, 2017

ThedaCare Opens Hospice Suite In Waupaca

Waupaca area residents needing hospice care during their final days can now receive it in a new hospice suite at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.

Patients Can Receive Care Locally in Their Final Days     

Waupaca area residents needing hospice care during their final days can now receive it in a new hospice suite at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.

The hospice suite opened earlier this year and eliminates the need for hospice patients needing acute care or respite care in a warm and respectful environment to leave the community. “Many families travel to Cherry Meadows in Appleton and spend time on the road going back and forth when they could be spending time with their family member needing care,” said Erin Tyink, regional development officer for ThedaCare Family of Foundations.

The hospice suite, which was created from two patient rooms, features a homelike setting and provides additional space for family members to gather. Overlooking the river, the space also includes amenities, such as a coffee maker and a small refrigerator, not normally found in hospital rooms. The suite has a kitchenette, a family dining space and a bathroom, including a shower, so family members can freshen up without leaving the building. The living area adjoining the patient’s space has an accordion door to accommodate private moments and larger gatherings.

“ThedaCare’s home-based hospice staff continues to support the patient and their families while they are in the hospice suite just as we would in a skilled nursing facility or their own home,” said Teri Metropulos, hospice manager for ThedaCare At Home, adding patients still have access to pet therapy and massage therapy while in hospice. “This remains a win-win for the patient and the family. We provide coordinated care between the hospital and the hospice staff in an environment that support the patient near their home so loved ones can spend more time at bedside.”

The idea for the hospice suite emerged in 2015. Betty Jo Balzar, who was the hospital’s director of nursing at the time, developed a plan to convert two patient rooms into a hospice suite. When designing the suite, the team consulted with Metropulos and other internal hospice experts and also talked with families and other hospice programs throughout the state.

To make the project possible, a fundraising campaign was launched, with the hospital and the ThedaCare Hospice Foundation making lead gifts. Community members stepped up to raise the additional funds, Tyink said.

“Businesses and individuals responded generously,” she said. “In total, the community raised more than $240,000 in about six months for the project. Without this generosity, the space wouldn’t exist. The community of Waupaca came together to create an environment similar to that of our primary hospice facility at Cherry Meadows.”

Tyink said the ThedaCare Hospice Foundation used funds raised at the annual Light Up the Night Event, held at the Waupaca Ale House, to kick start the project.

“The foundation exists in part to partner with the system and enhance the patient experience in ways large and small. This project does that by establishing a warm, safe space for hospice patients and their loved ones to spend their final days together, close to home,” she said.

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 200,000 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 32 clinics in nine 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.  The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.