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May 15, 2019


Working to Fight Addiction in Northeast and Central Wisconsin

May 15, 2019


Working to Fight Addiction in Northeast and Central Wisconsin

APPLETON, Wis. – ThedaCare serves more than 600,000 people throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin and has a mission of improving the health of the communities they serve. ThedaCare leaders and caregivers know it is a responsibility of the organization to understand health issues in those communities. There is also a responsibility to help find solutions to those issues, while continuing to offer the best care possible. 

“Opioid dependency is a national crisis, even affecting Northeast and Central Wisconsin communities,” said Dr. Jennifer Frank, Chief Medical Officer of the ThedaCare Clinically Integrated Network. “We want to assist patients so they understand how to use opioids safely and where to find help if necessary.”

Results of the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by ThedaCare indicate that the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin has grown. Since 2005, the rate of opioid use disorder has more than tripled, according to data provided by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. This discovery prompted the launch of an internal multi-disciplinary task force to map out how ThedaCare can help fight the trend.

“Drugs impact our communities in a variety of ways,” said Dr. Zach Baeseman, Associate Medical Director of ThedaCare Physicians and Family Medical Physician at ThedaCare Physicians—Waupaca and Wild Rose. “They begin on an individual level and then escalate to involve families and the overall population. Working together to implement solutions will help us make positive changes all around us.”

As part of the strategy outlined by the task force, ThedaCare will be launching an opioid awareness campaign developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “It only takes a little to lose a lot”. The public will see different forms of campaign presence, including billboards, social media and public service announcements across the nine county service area. Goals of the campaign include fewer prescriptions written for opioids, more people accessing addiction and recovery services and ultimately lower rates of hospitalizations, emergency department visits and deaths due to opioid overdose.

Other key components of the campaign include academic detailing, increasing Medically Assisted Treatment, implementing and supporting school-based resiliency programming such as Sources of Strength and installing drug drop boxes at ThedaCare locations.

“For us, this is very personal,” said Dr. Frank. “This is our community, and we want it to be a safe and healthy community. This is the community we all live in and may want to stay in forever, so we want it to be the best community possible.”

ThedaCare also asks community members to be involved in finding a solution to the opioid crisis. ThedaCare encourages patients and families to ask providers about whether alternatives to opiates should be considered. And, if prescribed an opioid, take and dispose of medications properly. Unused prescription medications in homes can cause concern, because they can be accidentally ingested, stolen and abused. Unused or expired medicine should never be flushed or poured down the drain. Medicine take-back options are the best way to safely dispose of most types of medicines.

The organization will also connect people to resources like the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline through 2-1-1, ThedaCare Behavioral Health and other valuable services. A list of services and contact information can be found by visiting the ThedaCare opioid resource page.

“We must do this together,” said Dr. Baeseman. “To help end this epidemic, everyone must to be working toward the common goal of saving lives.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 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.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.