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November 22, 2019


Committed to Providing the Best Care, Close to Home

November 22, 2019


Committed to Providing the Best Care, Close to Home

NEW LONDON, Wis. – November 21, 2019, is recognized as National Rural Health Day, celebrating the value of rural hospitals and caregivers. Throughout the week, ThedaCare will be highlighting the accomplishments and stories from our rural areas, providing access to care for those living in Northeast and Central Wisconsin.

“The importance of having access to healthcare and having continuity of care can never be overstated,” said David Hale, MD, an emergency department physician at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London. “When a person can access a provider or other services, it can improve treatment of health issues, resulting in better outcomes for the patient. Stopping small health problems before they become larger health issues is especially significant in rural areas.”

He added at times, you can observe the level of healthcare a community has based on the types of cases that come into the Emergency Department (ED).

“From an ED standpoint, it’s very clear when you have a good community health provider base because the types of problems coming into the ED are different,” he said. “You don’t see skyrocketing blood sugar or blood pressure readings because those are being monitored by a primary care provider.”

Julie Chikowski, Vice President of Critical Access Hospitals and ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, agreed that rural healthcare is invaluable.

“In some cases, rural Wisconsin health outcomes are below the state average,” she explained. “That’s because the factors that drive good health – access to care, education, and employment – are sometimes less available in rural areas.”

Dr. Hale noted that many people who live in rural areas work nine-to-five jobs in addition to working on their farms or other jobs.

“That makes it challenging for them to find time to get to a doctor, which makes it essential that healthcare be available locally,” he said. “There is no difference in the incidence of heart disease, strokes, hypertension or kidney disease between a city and a rural area. Those issues are everywhere.”

“That’s why ThedaCare is committed to keeping healthcare as local as possible,” Chikowski said. “When we can keep care close to home, we typically have better quality outcomes and better patient outcomes at a lower cost. If we can keep people well up front by providing good primary care, which we can do locally, then our patients can have better outcomes on the back side of a serious illness or injury.”

Chikowski notes that ThedaCare Critical Access Hospitals offer a variety of specialty care services in the rural areas. She offered the example of Cancer Care teams from ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton traveling to the rural medical centers and clinics to meet with patients.

“Patients receive their specific cancer treatment in Appleton, then their Cancer Care Team will come to their local hospital or clinic regularly to provide further care,” she said. “This provides familiar faces for our patients and their families, which provides a lot of comfort for them, and it’s part of our ThedaCare commitment to provide the best quality care we can close to the patient’s home.”

Similarly, ThedaCare rural hospitals work with cardiac specialists to care for heart patients.

“We typically see the patient initially and then if more extensive treatment is needed, they are connected with our cardiovascular care team in Appleton for care,” she explained. “Afterward, they’ll complete their cardiac rehab in the local hospital or clinic, again keeping their care as close to home as possible.”

Dr. Hale agreed the availability of specialists within ThedaCare is excellent.

“The coordination of care between different providers is vital,” he said. “We work closely with specialists for consultation; the care journey is integrated and very responsive. As a board-certified ED doctor with more than 25 years of experience, I’m honored to serve the people here with this talented team.”

Dr. Hale also explained the community connection is something that brings neighbors together.

“A local hospital not only provides much needed care, it also brings in jobs. It’s a selling point for companies trying to recruit new employees,” he said. “The fact that a community has a high-quality medical facility makes a big difference when people are choosing where to live.”

Chikowski agreed.

“When you have good education, good employment opportunities and good healthcare, all those things combine to make for better population health and more of a wellness environment,” she said. “Local healthcare is a very important component to the viability of any community.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. 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 not-for-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.