Central Wisconsin

Why do hospital awards matter?
Ministry Saint Clare’s Launches Palliative Care Pilot Program
Expera celebrates 10 years of a healthy workforce
New patient advocate offers support to patients
Sugar-out day promotes good oral health
Patients in Merrill can access fast accurate CT scans
Marathon Area Support Team helps local law enforcement combat job-related stress

Why do hospital awards matter?

Occasionally, hospitals will announce they have won awards for one service line of care or another. Many ask, "Isn’t this just the hospital tooting their own horn?"

While it may sound like hospitals are publishing self-serving news, they are actually publishing a report card of sorts.

In the case of the Truven Top 100 Hospital Award, hospitals do not ask, apply or pay to be considered for the award; the award is based on hard, objective data. When a hospital is named one of Truven’s Top 100 Hospitals, area residents are assured that they will receive quality care.

Lower mortality rates, fewer patient complications, lower readmission rates, shorter hospital stays, higher patient satisfaction survey scores, and other criteria define the difference between the award winners and non-award winners.

This level of the quality translates into the quality of care and often, quality of life after a hospital admission for illness, injury or surgery.

For the second year, Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital has been named a Truven Top-100 Small Community Hospital for its extraordinary performance and visionary leadership. If you or a loved one makes a visit to Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital as a patient, you will receive excellent and comprehensive care.


Expera celebrates 10 years of rolling out a healthy workforce with on-site medical services

At a time when companies are looking hard at every dollar spent, finding money to provide additional wellness services for employees may seem like a costly extravagance. Paul Winter, Safety Manager for Expera Specialty Solutions, LLC, was confident that adding healthcare services on-site was the right thing to do – for his employees – as well as the bottom line.

Expera is the leading North American manufacturer of specialty paper products for use in the tape, pressure-sensitive release liner, industrial and food packaging segments. They make everything from microwave popcorn bags to the special masking tape people use when painting. Winter knows this can be a challenging physical environment for workers.

Ministry Medical Group began working with the Rhinelander mills in 2004 by developing job function descriptions. The program expanded five years later with on-site services at the Rhinelander mill to help with injury treatment and prevention and workers compensation cost reduction. A physical therapist started with four hours per week to provide consults on injuries, make work-environments safety improvement suggestions, provide safety education, and encourage injury prevention among employees.

After a great deal of success in Rhinelander, Expera began offering on-site healthcare services at their Mosinee plant in 2010. Today, four therapists provide services more than 80 hours per week with over 1,000 interactions with Expera employees.

"Our employees have come to see the on-site therapists as a benefit similar to their 401K or insurance," said Winter. "Many of these workers do not see a primary care provider as often as they should, so the therapist is truly their safety net for health issues."

Winter adds his employees have a high level of trust in the therapists, largely because they take the time to walk through the plant visiting with employees. "This personalized approach allows the therapists to more effectively treat employees when they are injured and plays a huge part in promoting safety and preventing injuries."

Ministry Medical Group therapists arrange their schedules to be available to see Expera employees during Expera’s three work shifts, 24 hours a day.

Making sure that the employee is a good fit for any given job is one of the key responsibilities of the on-site therapists. The on-site providers teach employees stretches, exercises and when to use ice versus heat. They help employees reduce the risk of strains, sprains and more serious injuries. This prevents time off from work.

"All Ministry Medical Group on-site therapists are trained in a specific method of workplace job evaluation and analysis through an internationally recognized work injury program," explained Gina Scheuer, industrial rehabilitation manager for Ministry Medical Group, Occupational Medicine. "They complete job function descriptions and analysis, as part of the work injury program system to evaluate the physical and functional demands of each job in the mill."

Scheuer adds that a job-function match test allows the comparison of worker abilities to meet job demands and helps make sure each employee is safe and able to fulfill the functions of their job before returning to or starting that position.

"This information helps guide therapy care, medical care, and work restrictions to ensure that a worker is returned to work at the right time," said Scheuer. "The entire process helps encourage a safer, more comprehensive approach to returning a worker to their job and in many cases helps to get a worker back to the job faster."

Stretching, exercise programs and comprehensive health and injury prevention programs are other key parts of the program. These opportunities provide resources and tools for employees to use outside of work so they can be healthier on the job.

All of these components have helped Expera roll out a healthier workforce for the past 10 years.


Ministry Saint Clare’s Launches Palliative Care Pilot Program

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and the stress of a serious illness -- whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

"Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support," said Ellen Schumann, M.D., MS, FAAP, chief medical information officer at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital. "It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment."

Dr. Schumann adds that this new effort will launch as a pilot program focused on patients with congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Within the Ministry system, Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Marshfield and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Appleton will continue to offer a complete multidisciplinary program for palliative care. Recruitment efforts are underway for a medical director and administrator to provide oversight of this system with plans to grow and expand more defined palliative care models to other Ministry locations.

An increasing number of individuals live with serious, chronic illness. Almost one in two people in the United States have a chronic disease and one in five people have multiple chronic diseases. More than 90 percent of people will die of a chronic disease. We spend eight out of every ten dollars on chronic disease, the majority of which is spent in the last six months of life. In those final months, one in three chronically ill patients is treated by 10 or more physicians. We can do better.

"Once a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition or a debilitating illness or injury is made, palliative care begins to offer support to the family and patient while disease-modifying treatment is continued," said Dr. Schumann. "As the burden of disease waxes and wanes, so does the involvement of palliative care."

At Ministry Saint Clare’s, palliative care will not be a place, but a philosophy of care supported by a special team. Palliative care will be a consult service requiring a physician order, although any clinical staff member can identify patients.

The initial consultation team in Weston includes Anil Thogarucheeti, MD, medical director of the hospitalist program; Mark Moser, director of case management and the patient’s primary nurse.

Chaplains Marion Talaga and Duane Hamilton will provide spiritual services. Ministry Home Care will also be an integral team member of the Palliative Care program.

Patients with congestive heart failure or cardiopulmonary disease who meet two of the following three criteria are appropriate for referral.


  • The illness will result in the end of life within the next 12 months.
  • The patient has been admitted three times for the same illness within a six-month period.
  • A home care patient has been admitted twice for the same illness.

Dr. Schumann adds that conclusions from any initial palliative care consultation can be easily entered into the patient’s electronic health record and recommendations shared quickly with the patient, family, nursing staff and the primary medical home. If the patient chooses to enroll in the palliative care program, a case manager will meet with the patients and families to review the plan of care and facilitate the necessary referrals for services, equipment and ongoing care.

"We are excited to introduce this service at Ministry Saint Clare’s," said Schumann. "The long-term plan is for the pilot to grow and evolve into a complete palliative care program, with dedicated and specialized staff and services."


New patient advocate offers support to patients

Jacque Hustedt, RN, joined Ministry Health Care to provide patient advocate services at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston.

Coping with illness, injury and hospitalization can be challenging for patients. As a patient advocate, Hustedt listens, offers support to clear up difficulties, which helps reduce the overall stress of the hospital experience.

Hustedt says she felt called to the patient advocate position after experiencing the healthcare system from the other side of the bed during a family illness.

"I realized that there is much more to healthcare than basic nursing skills," said Hustedt. "When you experience the system through someone else’s eyes you realize there are additional ways to make a difference." Hustedt says she is excited about the opportunity to help patients and their family members who entrust Ministry Saint Clare’s with their care as well as being an active participant in the continuous improvement process that today’s healthcare delivery system requires.

The Rib Lake native lives in Wausau with her husband Harry and her two sons. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and knitting.

Hustedt joined the leadership team at Ministry Saint Clare’s after 15 years as a cardiac nurse most recently with Cardiovascular Associates, Wausau. She replaced Sister Sharee Hurtgen who retired at the end of February. As a patient advocate, Hustedt plays an important role in achieving Ministry Saint Clare’s goal of providing customer satisfaction.


Sugar-out day promotes good oral health

Members of the Lincoln County Oral Health Coalition hope that by promoting good oral health habits to elementary school students, they will reduce the amount of cavities and lay the groundwork for good health later in life.

They have developed a "Sugar Out Day" program that features interactive displays and presentations on how much sugar is in some of the students' favorite foods. Students also take part in a pledge to eat or drink less sugar with their families.

"We are trying to teach kids at this age the benefits of good oral health habits that they can carry on for the rest of their lives," said Jane Bentz, and Foundation and Community Outreach Director at Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center and Coalition member.

The messages in the display encourage kids to:

Rethink your drink: Students are able to see that sugar sodas, juices, flavored milk and energy drinks contain an average of 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving. They can also see and understand that unflavored milk and / or water are viable substitutes. They also are taught that diet sodas, although they have artificial sweeteners, are not a healthy substitute.

Look at the labels: All sugars are listed in grams on the nutrition label. Every four grams of sugar on the nutrition label equals one teaspoon of sugar. Students are encouraged to calculate how much sugar is in a particular food by dividing the number of grams on the label by four.

Sugary Snacks: Healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables are showcased along with the importance of planning by pre-packing snacks to eat healthier.

Artificial Sugars: Students are asked to keep track of how many artificial sweeteners they eat or drink each day. If they are currently drinking or eating several artificially sweetened drinks and food items a day, they are challenged to have only one.

Tooth decay is the most common disease of childhood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that 25 percent of children aged six to11 years and 59 percent of adolescents aged 12 to19 years have chronic tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay may cause pain and infection that could affect a child’s ability to eat, sleep, speak, play and learn.

Members of the Lincoln County Oral Health Coalition include Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center, Ministry Sacred Heart Hospital, Lincoln County Health Department, Oak Park Dental, Lincoln County Board of Health, Merrill Head Start, and Bridge Community Dental Clinics. The Coalition’s goals are to increase dental access and increase oral health among Lincoln County’s residents.

About Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center

Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital that provides primary and specialty healthcare services to Merrill and rural Lincoln County.

It features a 24-hour emergency department, walk-in clinic, inpatient care and surgery plus direct access to imaging, laboratory and rehabilitation services.

Ministry Good Samaritan is an iVantage HealthStrongTop 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the United States and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top performers on key quality measures for surgical care and blood clot prevention by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of healthcare organizations in America.


Patients in Merrill can access fast accurate CT scans at Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center

Patients who need a Computed Tomography scan (CT) can visit Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center in Merrill. The equipment upgrade at Ministry Good Samaritan will allow people to receive service more quickly and efficiently.

CT scans utilize X-rays to create detailed images from inside the body. The CT scan is valuable in many clinical presentations such as detection of cancer, trauma, and causes of pain in the chest, abdomen and head.

"This is a significant upgrade to our comprehensive imaging services," said Joseph Heitz, MD, a Merrill radiologist on staff at Ministry Good Samaritan. "It will provide improved image quality and requires less radiation dose with examinations performed in a shorter period of time."

While the speed is one benefit, accuracy is another. The upgraded CT scanner at Ministry Good Samaritan has the ability to determine the correct radiation dose based on the patient’s size. The dose reduction technology built into the new scanner allows patients to receive a high quality exam at a significantly reduced dose.

"The automation is especially beneficial for larger and smaller patients as the amount of radiation is based on the individual’s size and allows for diagnostic image quality to remain constant from children to adults," added Heitz.

Ministry Good Samaritan is remodeling the diagnostic imaging department to accommodate the installation of a Siemens, SOMATOM® Definition AS 128-slice, CT scanner. The scanner, along with an innovative FAST CARE operational system helps maximize clinical platforms and provides automation that can potentially improve patient satisfaction. Additionally, the system helps achieve outstanding images at a lower dose through its innovative Combined Applications to Reduce Exposure (CARE).

It’s not common to see an advanced CT scanner in a rural community. "For a critical access hospital like Ministry Good Samaritan to have this caliber of a scanner is tremendous," said Mary Witte, director of diagnostic and therapeutic services at Ministry Good Samaritan. "This scanner aligns us with the larger facilities in healthcare."

Witte adds that this project is another benefit of being part of the Ministry Health Care system. Similar CT upgrades were recently completed at Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander and Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital. The collective purchase with Siemens USA, produced significant cost savings and in the end a higher-level product for facilities that serve rural areas.

While the focus is on keeping patients first, there are advantages for Ministry’s staff. "The functionality of the new CT scanner is very friendly and allows us to utilize other technologists if needed from across the region, said Witte.

This project is the latest in a series of imaging upgrades at Ministry Good Samaritan. These include permanent on-site, full-field digital mammography, general, vascular and echo ultrasound, bone densomitry, a new general imaging room and high-definition magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to go along with a nuclear medicine camera.

Behind the scenes, a complete radiology information system (RIS) and picture archiving and communicating system (PACS) links all of the equipment together and connects Ministry Good Samaritan with other Ministry Health Care facilities.

Evening appointments for mammography and additional staff training has also taken place to provide new capabilities on existing equipment for patients who prefer to stay closer to home in Merrill. These improvements are all part of keeping patients first when it comes to diagnostic imaging at Ministry Good Samaritan.


Marathon Area Support Team helps local law enforcement combat job-related stress.

On-the-job stress comes in many forms.

Sometimes, it’s the pressure of doing your job well in less than ideal circumstances, while other times it can be the normal pressures of life impacting your performance.

For those in law enforcement, the duty call of "to serve and protect" can be very complicated; the exposure to stressful and traumatic events can have a lasting effect.

As part of a community based effort, Ministry’s Associated Employee Assistance Services (AEAS) is helping to develop the Marathon Area Support Team (MAST), a peer support program for law enforcement agencies in central Wisconsin.

"Law enforcement is a stressful environment and one of the most difficult things for officers to do is ask for help," said Robert Wilcox, Domestic Violence Officer for the Wausau Police Department. "We hope this peer support approach provides mentors to those going through tough times personally or professionally."

While peer support has been in place on a variety of levels for law enforcement personnel in central Wisconsin, this new effort is designed to provide additional training to create a resource for officers or staff that may be unwilling to come forward in a group setting.

Gary Yeast, BA, MS, LMFT, who specializes in Traumatology for Ministry AEAS, recently began implementation of peer support training in Marathon County by leading a day-long training session with members representing the Everest Metro, Kronenwetter and Wausau Police departments as well as Marathon County Sherriff’s Department and Wisconsin Department of Justice.

"The evolution of crisis care and response for emergency personnel has replaced the traditional Critical Incident Stress Management / Debriefing model to become Psychological First Aid," said Yeast.

Yeast adds that Psychological First Aid is an approach used to reduce stress caused by a traumatic event, normalize reactions, help people cope, adapt and recover, and prevent long-term consequences.

The training session also covered the continuum of stress with a focus on addressing compassion fatigue and preventing burnout. "Compassion fatigue is the emotional residue from exposure to working with people who are suffering, particularly those hurting from the consequence of traumatic events," said Yeast.

Yeast adds that additional sessions are planned in the future.



Ministry Medical Group clinics in Weston, Rib Mountain and Merrill are offering WIAA Sports Physicals to student-athletes entering grades 6 to 11 in July and August.

Physicals cost $25 with all proceeds donated back to the student’s school.

The physicals meet WIAA requirements for the 2014 to 2016 seasons, but are not intended to replace regular check-ups. Students should dress in shorts and gym shoes and bring their WIAA sports card. A parent or guardian must accompany the athlete to complete the necessary paperwork.

WIAA sports physical appointment dates:
Rib Mountain
Thursday, July 24, 2 - 6 p.m.
Tuesday, August 5, 1 - 5 p.m.
Tuesday, August 12, 1 - 5 p.m.

Wednesday, July 23, 1 - 5 p.m.
Thursday, July 31, 1 - 5 p.m.
Thursday, August 7, 1 - 5 p.m.

July 28 - August 8
during regular clinic hours.
Please call for appointment

For more information, visit ministryhealth.org/sportsphysicals

Over the past seven years, Ministry Medical Group’s Sports Physical Program has donated more than $25,000 to schools in Marathon and Lincoln counties.




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