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January 19, 2021

ThedaCare Awarded Grant to Enhance Access to Substance Use Disorder Services

– ThedaCare is pleased to announce ThedaCare Behavioral Health has recently been awarded a grant to expand and extend Substance Use Disorder services in the Shawano and Waupaca communities.

Program will focus on Expansion of Care in Rural Communities

January 19,2021

SHAWANO, Wis. – ThedaCare is pleased to announce ThedaCare Behavioral Health has recently been awarded a grant to expand and extend Substance Use Disorder services in the Shawano and Waupaca communities. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Network Development Program Grant was awarded for three years and includes $890,000 in funding. Through the grant, ThedaCare will launch the “Expansion of Rural Behavioral Health” program. 

“The purpose of the project is to focus on the unmet behavioral health need through integrative approaches, with emphasis on the rural footprint of Wisconsin within the ThedaCare service area,” said Heather Pagel, Project Director. “Through the program, we plan to expand access, advance coordination and improve the quality of services. By focusing on those areas, we hope the program will strengthen the overall health of our rural communities.” 

As a result of the grant, ThedaCare has added two full-time Substance Use Disorder Clinicians in the Behavioral Health offices Shawano and Waupaca.

“By bringing in the clinicians to the rural areas, it allows individuals to receive substance use treatment and care in their community,” explained Pagel. “Before the program was expanded, they might have needed to travel to the Fox Valley for treatment.”

This grant will also provide training to primary care providers in the use of medication assisted treatment in the primary care clinic. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) and can help some people to sustain recovery. Once training is complete, qualified practitioners can offer buprenorphine, a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). 

In addition, expansion of available treatment provided in the community, ThedaCare is adding two Behavioral Health Collaboration Managers in the primary care clinics in Shawano and Waupaca. 

“According the University of Washington AIMS Center, behavioral health problems such as depression, anxiety, alcohol or substance use are among the most common and disabling health conditions worldwide, collectively robbing millions of their chance to lead healthy and productive lives,” said Pagel. “The good news is that there are effective treatments for most behavioral health conditions. We should remember that so often, people in need do not receive care due to stigma, a shortage of behavioral health specialists and other barriers. Through this program, we are striving to break down those obstacles and give people the resources they need, close to home.” 

Another aspect of the Expansion of Rural Behavioral Health program is collaborative care by providing both medical and behavioral health services the primary care setting. 

“There are many benefits to bringing these services together,” explained Pagel. “Offering mental health and substance use disorder treatments in primary care is convenient for patients and can reduce the stigma associated with treatment. It also builds on existing provider-patient relationships, continuing those trusted relationships that are critical for behavioral health success.”

In the spirit of collaborative care, the grant also includes community partnerships. ThedaCare and partners have developed an oversight network that includes Shawano County Department of Human Services (DHS), Family Health La Clinica and Menominee Tribal Clinic. There are also subcommittees in each community to ensure the public’s voice is heard and implemented in the work.

“It is crucial that we continue to work with individuals to pursue their wellness and recovery,” said Julie Meyer, Director of ThedaCare Behavioral Health. “An important piece of that is providing services closer to home and in individual’s own communities. This is also a great opportunity to work closer and smarter with key partners in these communities with the aim of expanding and improving behavioral health services at a time when they are needed more than ever.” 

Editor’s Note: This initiative is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $471,081.12 with 36% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit