The word local can have many definitions. When it comes to health care, it can mean you don’t have to drive an hour for emergency care, or that higher-level care is available without having to travel to a major metro area. Or maybe it means expert care on the sidelines at your son or daughter’s athletic competition.
From ThedaStar and the Level II Trauma Center at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah to our critical access hospitals to licensed athletic trainers who work with area schools, ThedaCare meets all kinds of needs. We prioritize you and your family, making it easy to get the care you need.
Regional Trauma Care
Let’s start with a wide-angle view. With the Level II Trauma Center and certified Comprehensive Stroke Center at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, high-level care is available closer to home. This means you don’t need to travel to Milwaukee or Madison when you or your loved ones need more advanced care.
It’s not just about the Fox Cities, says Dr. Raymond Georgen, ThedaCare System Trauma Medical Director. With ThedaStar, care teams can provide quick help to people in farther-out communities, including places such as Green Lake, Shawano and Waushara counties. Since taking off in 1986, ThedaStar has flown more than 15,000 missions.
“The clock is ticking when you’re injured,” Dr. Georgen says. “Thousands of people’s lives have been saved through having ThedaStar to transport patients [to Neenah] from the scene or from a smaller hospital that doesn’t have the resources to take care of those patients.”
The $100 million modernization underway at the Neenah hospital will only enhance care. The work is finishing in phases.
Recently, the ThedaStar Air Medical Program began using a newly created, additional helipad. The helipad is adjacent to the emergency department for rapid transfer of patients. Teams are also providing critical care in a redesigned and modernized trauma center.
The trauma center update includes a separate hallway for patients who are experiencing a trauma. This provides individuals with the privacy and dignity they deserve.
Dr. Georgen says the modernization was much-needed.
“We’ve become a very busy trauma center. In order to deal with that kind of volume, we really needed to ramp up our facilities,” he says. “[This project is] going to have a huge impact on the care we’re able to deliver to people throughout northeastern Wisconsin.”
Care Close to Home
Zooming in a bit, Tammy Bending, Vice President of Critical Hospital Operations at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin and ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose, says close-to-home care is important to the smaller communities the two hospitals serve. That includes Acute Stroke Ready certifications at all five ThedaCare critical access hospitals.
“Our community can come to our local hospital. They don’t have to drive farther,” Bending says. “If they need comprehensive care, we’re able to get them there immediately.”
The need for local care led to a 2021 expansion of the emergency department at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin, which is marking its two-year anniversary this July.
Bending says it was important to the people of Berlin and surrounding areas to invest in a state-of-the-art facility in the community. Green Lake County, where Berlin resides, has its own unique strengths and challenges, and the facility was designed to address those.
“We have a lot of agriculture here, and a lot of companies that use chemicals,” Bending says. “The reality of having a chemical spill or someone being exposed to chemicals is real. To be prepared for that, we put in a decontamination room.”
In the past, in the event of a decontamination, teams would have to set up a tent outdoors. This happened regardless of whether the temperatures were subzero or in the 90s.
The new space also features expanded ambulance bays that are easier to navigate and that keep teams and patients out of the elements. Inside, the emergency department includes two rooms designed specifically for behavioral health needs. In addition, the overall space provides clear visibility for team members.
“It’s important for our staff to be able to see what’s going on in patients’ rooms for their safety,” Bending says.
Looking back at the past two years, Bending says the expanded emergency department has made a huge impact.
“We take care of a very large area here — over 60,000 lives,” she says. “It means so much to this community for us to be able to continue to have an emergency department to care for people. It means the world.”
Serving Student Athletes
Zooming in even closer now, at athletic games and events around Northeast and Central Wisconsin, ThedaCare licensed athletic trainers are there to provide care and support of all kinds. Licensed athletic trainers, often called LATs, work with 18 school districts throughout the region and serve around 13,000 students.
Alison Kramer, an LAT serving the Menasha Joint School District, says LATs provide immediate injury care during games and matches. They also work with athletes on injury prevention, recovery and rehab.
“Everyone appreciates having the athletic trainer on the sideline because we know what they next steps would be if something bad were to happen,” she says.
In Kramer’s role, she has access to the schedules of ThedaCare Orthopedic Care sports medicine specialists, and she can slot students in as needed. That provides peace of mind to coaches, parents and athletes alike.
“If we can get that diagnosis in flat, then we can start the rehab and get an injury taken care of quickly,” she says.