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November 18, 2019


ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano Earns National Recognition

November 18, 2019


ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano Earns National Recognition

SHAWANO, 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.

“For the purpose of healthcare, ‘rural’ is defined as a geographic area with low population size and density,” explained Julie Chikowski, Vice President of Critical Access Hospitals and ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. “It can be a town, a small city or a township.”

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), which establishes Rural Health Day every year, notes that one in five Americans live in a rural area, and those areas face unique healthcare needs.

“Today more than ever, rural communities must address specific issues not all Americans face,” said Chikowski. “Some issues include meeting the needs of an aging population, treating and maintaining chronic conditions and providing access for a larger percentage of uninsured and underinsured people.”

Chikowski explained the term Critical Access Hospital (CAH) is a designation given to eligible rural hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

According to CMS, here are some of the criteria for a Critical Access Hospital:

  • Have 25 or less acute care beds.
  • Maintains an annual average length of stay of 96 hours per patient for acute inpatient care
  • Be 15 to 35 miles away from the nearest hospital, depending on the local system of highways.
  • Provide emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Chikowski noted that Congress created the CAH designation in 1997 in response to numerous rural hospitals closing during the 1980s and early 1990s. According to the Rural Health Information Hub, the purpose of the CAH designation is to “reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities.”

“Once a hospital is designated a CAH, then CMS will reimburse the hospital the actual cost of treating its Medicare and Medicaid patients, whereas regional and urban hospitals are reimbursed at a per diem rate,” Chikowski explained. “The CMS understands that it is oftentimes more challenging to provide high quality, low cost healthcare in rural areas because of those unique circumstances facing rural areas.”

Currently there are 1,300 CAHs in the United States. In the ThedaCare health system, its Medical Centers in Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose are designated as CAHs.

ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano recently was ranked in the Top 100 CAHs in the country for 2019, joining seven other Wisconsin hospitals to receive that honor. That ranking is determined by the Chartis Center for Rural Health (CCRH).

“This is a huge honor for our Shawano hospital and its staff,” Chikowski said. “The Chartis Center compares all CAHs in the nation against one another. It looks at each hospital’s strength index, which is based on quality scores, health outcomes, patient satisfaction scores and cost per patient. In other words, it asks your patients having good outcomes, are they happy with what you’re doing for them and are you being good stewards of healthcare dollars and providing care at a better cost.”

Chikowski added that being named in the Top 100 is a coveted award.

“We have a beautiful hospital, a great culture and teamwork here in Shawano,” she said.  “We are committed to providing quality healthcare, close to home.”

She noted that ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano has more than 30 specialty services offered to patients and families, including general surgery, obstetrics, physical therapy, imaging and more.

“More and more, people are realizing how important rural healthcare is,” she said. “Wisconsin consistently ranks among the very best for quality and lowest cost, usually in the top five in the nation. Our rural hospitals significantly contribute to that outcome because of our quality scores. At ThedaCare, we are committed to keeping care local, while fulfilling our mission of improving the health of the communities we serve.”

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 7,000 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.