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June 2, 2015

Waupaca Clinic in Top 15 in State for Caring for Patients with High Blood Pressure

ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca was recognized as one of the top 15 clinics in Wisconsin for exceptional care for patients with hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Left Untreated, Hypertension can cause Severe Problems

ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca was recognized as one of the top 15 clinics in Wisconsin for exceptional care for patients with hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Out of all 256 clinics across the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) membership that report for the hypertension measure “Controlling High Blood Pressure,” ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca scored within the top 15, with 87.21 percent of its hypertensive patients in control.  “Our target goal is to keep hypertensive patients below 140/90 because blood pressure over that causes many chronic medical conditions,” said Kathy Markofski, practice administrator for the clinic.

Krista Bilgo, clinical supervisor, said the ranking speaks to the quality of service available to patients in the area. “We have an excellent local service here and we’re taking very good care of our patients. Patients don’t have to leave the Waupaca area to get quality healthcare.”

Markofski agreed. “It’s a team work of the providers and the staff to help control hypertension in the clinic,” she said.

Members from WCHQ as well as state health care facilities paid a visit to the Waupaca clinic early in May to learn about the processes used to care for patients with hypertension, known as a silent killer. There are about 70 million individuals in the United States with hypertension.

“Hypertension is the No. 1 diagnoses at ThedaCare,” said Markofski, noting that over 40,000 patients are diagnosed with hypertension. ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca manages 2,728 hypertension patients.

Sometimes there are no symptoms of hypertension but there could be a few warning signs — severe headache; fatigue or confusion; vision problems; chest pain; difficulty breathing; irregular heartbeat; blood in the urine and pounding in your chest, neck, or ears — that may indicate complications of hypertension. Urgent treatment would be needed because patients could have a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to vision problems, as well as to heart attack, stroke, and other potentially fatal conditions, including kidney failure.

“ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca has processes to manage hypertension patients such as the blood pressure medicine refill process,  the elevated blood pressure recheck process and many other processes made visual for the providers, staff and patients to help educate on hypertension,” said Markofski.

The clinic keeps a close eye on hypertension patients. “We have advanced software technology that identifies patients not at goal so that staff and providers can reach out to them to manage their care,” said Bilgo.

Patients also receive an after visit summary, which includes educational facts about hypertension and how to manage it. Patients are also referred to the health and wellness department, which offers programs to help patients manage hypertension. “The health and wellness center keeps me in the loop of every blood pressure taken on my patients so that I can work with that team to give instant adjustments to their treatment plans,” said Paul Sletten, MD, family physician and physician leader of the clinic.

ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca staff and providers recently presented to WCHQ representatives and other health system officials about the clinic’s services for hypertension patients. The visitors observed the work being done on test patients. “They were taking notes like crazy,” she said.

Bilgo said the data gathered will benefit other health systems and, ultimately, their patients. “(WCHQ is) going to come up with tool kits,” she said, noting there will be a presentation in Madison with findings from ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca and other high ranked health care facilities. “They are taking the best of the ideas and spreading that to other organizations.”

Markofski agreed, noting that ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca has been asked to present at an “Improving Hypertension Care and Outcomes” breakout session at the Statewide Quality Improvement Event on June 16 in Madison. Over 250 participants are expected at the event, which will include three breakout sessions on hypertension, diabetes and colorectal cancer screening. “We are very honored we were asked to present,” she said. “This is all about sharing ideas with other health care organizations to provide the best care to patients. “It’s an environment to help us learn what we do to care for patients. This will provide a better quality of life for our communities.”

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, Berlin Memorial Hospital and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,800 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!