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January 8, 2014

Packers Foundation Backs Rural Health Initiative

The Green Bay Packers Foundation is supporting farm families in Outagamie, Shawano, and Waupaca counties through a $1,000 grant to the Rural Health Initiative.

Program Gives $1,000 to Fund Health Screenings for Farm Families

The Green Bay Packers Foundation is supporting farm families in Outagamie, Shawano, and Waupaca counties through a $1,000 grant to the Rural Health Initiative.

The Rural Health Initiative takes healthcare directly to farmers in their homes sending a registered nurse to area farms for health screenings and to provide practical health and wellness advice. Rhonda Strebel, executive director of the initiative, said the funds will be used for health screenings for new families.

“I love that the Packers organization recognizes their fan base and gives back. Farm families work hard, but most of them take time out of their busy Sundays to watch the Packers,” she said. “It is important organizations recognize the hard-working people who might have time, distance or cost barriers to seek health care. Our services remove those barriers by bringing health services right to the farm. We have many more farm families to see in Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie counties and this donation will pay for more people to have services.”

The Packers Foundation gave a total of $500,000 to 188 civic and charitable groups throughout Wisconsin during a special luncheon in mid-December in the Lambeau Field Atrium. Since being started in 1986, the foundation has donated more than $3.7 million.

Brown County Judge John Zakowski, a trustee with the Green Bay Packers Foundation who interviewed Strebel as part of the granting process, came away impressed with the Rural Health Initiative.

“I like the ‘over and above’ approach that the nurses provide to the families. They not only answer questions about health issues, but can also listen to other concerns and forward them in the right direction. Overall, it was an outreach to a group of families that the Foundation feels are often overlooked,” he said.

In 2003, ThedaCare and Shawano Medical Center launched the Rural Health Initiative in Shawano County in partnership with the county extension service, the county public health department, and local schools, with regional agribusiness collaborative and financial partners. In 2012, the initiative expanded into Outagamie and Waupaca counties. In late 2013, the program expanded into Marathon County.

During the first visit, the nurse will take blood samples and run a quick set of tests that test cholesterol and glucose levels and measure blood pressure and determine body mass index to determine if the person is overweight. “It’s just like the health risk assessment tests many people receive at work as part of their insurance coverage,” Strebel said.

The nurse goes over the results and then talks about basic health issues, such as getting more exercise, safety issues, eating healthfully and more. If the tests reveal any concerns, such as high blood pressure, the nurse helps them connect with a medical provider if they don’t have one they regularly see one.

For more information about the Rural Health Initiative, please visit

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.