April 6, 2012
Volume 56, Issue 14

RTTs, Consortiums, Physician Supply/Demand Model Presented at WHA GME Task Force Meeting

The WHA Task Force on Graduate Medical Education continues to evaluate the issues associated with educating physicians in Wisconsin in an effort to create new opportunities to ensure an adequate physician supply.

At the April 2 meeting in Madison, James Damos, MD, assistant program director of the UW-Baraboo rural training track (RTT), briefed Task Force members on the history and reported on the current status of Wisconsin RTTs. An RTT is completed in a rural community setting over a period of a couple of years after family medicine residents spend a year in one of the state’s larger family medicine residency programs.

In 1990, Wisconsin had six rural communities hosting second and third year rural residency training tracks. Today, only the Baraboo RTT remains. Damos said that the number of RTTs has dwindled, but the fact remains that the more time a medical resident spends in a rural community, the higher the probability is that they will establish a practice there. Damos said 80 percent of the residents that spend 24 months in the RTT, stay and establish a practice. Even if a medical resident only completes one year in an RTT, there is a 37 percent probability that they will stay in the community.

"As the issue of increasing the physician supply in Wisconsin has been examined, it is clear that we need to train more residents here, especially in primary care," according to Chuck Shabino, MD, WHA senior medical advisor and chair of the GME Task Force. "That has renewed interest in establishing more RTT primary care programs."

Damos shared the results of a survey of medical directors from past RTT programs who identified several reasons for closure:

  • Lack of applicants or well-qualified applicants
  • Lack of promotion of rural residency programs at the medical school faculty level
  • Spouse/significant other need for employment
  • Voluntary faculty burnout
  • Physician champion of RTT lost interest

Shabino said the GME Task Force will take these issues into consideration as they develop their final recommendations.

Aurora Health Care’s Andy Anderson, MD and Bruce Van Cleave, MD presented a model developed by Aurora that assesses the current state of the physician residency and fellowship program for their health system and statewide. Factors included in the model are assessing current positions, ACGME accreditation, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid funding, the pass rate of graduates taking their board exam, and the number of residents/fellows hired by Aurora following graduation. The model includes a quantitative analysis of current positions open and the anticipated future physician workforce needs taking into consideration the number of physicians over the age of 55 who will retire, and population needs.

While the model was developed by Aurora Health Care for their system, the Task Force recognized they could use the same methodology in assessing physician workforce needs statewide, as could individual community hospitals.

The Task Force invited attorney Scott Geboy with Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman to describe GME consortiums. GME consortia are formal associations of medical schools, teaching hospitals and other organizations involved in residency training, with central support, direction and coordination allowing members to function collectively. The purpose of a consortium is to simplify the administration of residency education and to provide direction and coordination for the participating organizations. Geboy said a consortium can cut the administrative burden and reduce costs while providing a local mechanism for allocating resident positions. Geboy presented several models, ranging from simple contractual relationships to fully-integrated separate and distinct tax-exempt non-profit organizations.

Shabino said the GME Task Force will continue to review new and creative ways to enhance GME in Wisconsin. The next steps will center on developing the concepts, applying new models for determining both the supply of and demand for physicians, and removing barriers that will foster the growth of more residency training programs in Wisconsin.

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Medicaid Budget Forecast Shows Continued Improvement
Medicaid Shortfall Now Estimated at $81.7 Million GPR

The Department of Health Services (DHS) has revised its projections of the estimated Medicaid funding shortfall for the 2011-13 biennium down by about $11 million in state GPR funding. The new shortfall is projected to be about $82 million GPR. In December 2011, DHS estimated a shortfall of about $93 million GPR, which was significantly lower than the $219 million GPR it had estimated in September (see January 6 edition of The Valued Voice). The release of these projections comes as the result of new, WHA-backed quarterly Medicaid reporting and transparency measures that were adopted as a part of the 2011-13 state budget (2011 Wisconsin Act 32).

A letter dated March 30, 2012, from DHS Secretary Dennis Smith to the co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, notes that the projection includes $36 million in savings from several program changes that the Department implemented over the past year, including hospital Medicare Part A cost share reimbursement, the new transportation manager, expanded third-party liability collections, as well as changes to reimbursement for brand-name prescription drugs, and end-stage renal disease.

The projection also accounts for approximately $30 million in added state dollars needed because the federal share of costs is lower than assumed in the state biennial budget. DHS also notes the program is experiencing higher costs for Medicare Part B co-payments and deductibles for dual eligible participants.

Estimated savings from the waiver changes that were authorized by the Joint Finance Committee in November and in March (see March 16 Valued Voice article) are not included in the projection, as the Department is still finalizing terms and conditions for federal approval of those items. Potential savings from other possible reforms and efficiencies announced by DHS last September are also not included in the estimates, although DHS continues to pursue many of those items (see October 7, 2011 Valued Voice article).

While WHA continues to carefully monitor the estimated savings needed this biennium to keep Medicaid solvent, and the details behind the shortfall estimates, the continued reduction in the projected shortfall over the past several months is an encouraging development.

To see the letter from Secretary Smith to the Joint Finance Committee Co-chairs, go to www.wha.org/Data/Sites/1/medicaid/DHSreportJFC4-2-12.pdf.

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Guest Column: It’s Time to Challenge Mental Health Policy that is Slowing Holistic Treatment
By Jerry L. Halverson, MD, President-Elect, Wisconsin Psychiatric Association, and Matthew Stanford, JD, Vice President, Wisconsin Hospital Association

The treatment, support, and understanding of mental illness has seen positive advances in recent years that have benefited many individuals with mental illness. Some advances are due to better diagnosis and treatment, some advances are due to cultural changes that have reduced but not eliminated stigma associated with mental illness, and some advances are due to policy changes such as laws enacting mental health parity.

However, while beneficial progress has been made in mental health care, many individuals affected by mental illness remain disadvantaged by a mental health system that they cannot access or provides incomplete, uncoordinated care. Partly because of stigma, mental health care has for decades been segregated and siloed from physical health care. As a result, many individuals were not treated holistically but instead their head and body were treated separately. The results of that segregated treatment mentality for individuals with mental illness has lead to uncoordinated care and has not been good for many. For example, Americans with the most serious mental illnesses have been found to die 25 years earlier than others.

The good news is that links between "head and body" are becoming better understood and the health benefits of treating the whole individual are increasingly being recognized. Studies are increasingly identifying correlations between physical and mental health-related problems and finding that individuals with serious physical health problems often have co-morbid mental health problems. We are finding that "coordinated care" is better care and more cost effective care.

To take advantage of these new understandings and provide better, more holistic and less stigmatizing care, health care providers are increasingly studying ways to better coordinate an individual’s mental and physical health care. However, overcoming decades of infrastructure, policy, and patient and provider expectations built on the premise that mental health care should be separated and siloed from physical health care is a significant challenge in implementing new models of coordinated and integrated mental and physical health care.

Overcoming these challenges to achieve better coordinated and holistic mental and physical health care together in Wisconsin will require cultural and policy change. Just as Wisconsin’s mental health community was at the forefront of advocating for mental health parity, Wisconsin’s mental health community needs to more fully discuss, identify and advocate for cultural and policy change in Wisconsin that can tear down the 20th century siloed care model and enable new models of coordinated and holistic mental and physical health care.

One such existing policy that needs new consideration is the current Wisconsin law restrictions on communications between a patient’s treating psychiatrist and other physicians and providers that provide care to the patient. While this policy served an important purpose in a pre-HIPAA and segregated model of mental health care, many believe that this policy is now doing more harm than good by making it more difficult for different members of the medical team to communicate about their common patients by placing barriers in the way of that communication.

In a time of important change in health care delivery and views on mental health, it is important that Wisconsin keep up with that change. With leadership from the mental health community to challenge the status quo, we can help ensure that Wisconsin’s mental health policy and mental health care can be a progressive model for the rest of the country.

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Register Today for 2012 Advocacy Day
April 24, 2012 *** Monona Terrace, Madison

Join hundreds of your hospital colleagues and make an impact in Madison by attending Advocacy Day on April 24. Register your hospital team today, including your senior leaders, trustees and volunteers, for this important event.

Online registration available at http://events.SignUp4.com/AdvocacyDay12

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Guest Column: Why I Support Advocacy Day…
By Therese Pandl, President, HSHS Eastern Division, including St. Vincent Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay and St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan

As a hospital leader for three of the five Wisconsin hospitals in the Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS), I am committed to the importance of Advocacy Day. Our mission is to reach beyond the walls of our hospitals to provide health care services to everyone, and especially to those in need, including the poor, underinsured and uninsured. Not only do we do so through community benefits and by supporting and staffing various health clinics, but we can also do so through engaging with our elected officials as they craft public policy that affects our communities and patients.

Advocacy Day is that one day each year we join over 700 other hospital peers from across the state to speak up with one voice on these priority hospital issues.

Legislators regularly make decisions on issues that impact hospitals. Those decisions can relate to Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals to burdensome hospital regulations and more. No matter the issue, we need to alert our legislators to what those decisions mean back home for each of us. That is why we at HSHS regularly invite our elected officials to our hospitals. We want them to "see" firsthand the care our employees provide to patients and to look to us as a resource when they have to make public policy decisions that affect that care. We believe in the importance of establishing these relationships back in the district as well as in Madison or Washington, DC.

That is why we also believe in the importance of coming to Madison to meet with legislators or their staff in the State Capitol during Advocacy Day. This way we also see firsthand where legislators work and the context within which they make decisions. Through this continued involvement, we believe better decisions can be made.

I would encourage everyone to consider attending WHA’s Advocacy Day. It is the ideal opportunity for each of us to deliver the important message that hospitals care and are committed to our communities.

Join your peers at WHA’s Advocacy Day on April 24 in Madison. A complete program and easy online registration for 2012 Advocacy Day are available at http://events.SignUp4.com/AdvocacyDay12.

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President’s Column: Top Legislative Session Health Law, IPAB vs. Premium Support, Shocking Ignorance and the Cost of Public Employee Benefits…

Steve Brenton

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FMLA Concerns; WHA Quality Initiatives Headline Workforce Council Agenda

Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) was the special guest at the WHA Workforce Council meeting held April 5 at WHA headquarters in Madison, where he and Council members discussed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Administration of the federal and state laws that govern FMLA is an issue of concern to WHA members. It is also an issue that Senator Olsen has been trying to address with legislation in Wisconsin that would deter the two laws from being "stacked," and prevent employees from "double dipping" into both state and federal FMLA.

Olsen, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, also chairs the Education Committee and is a member of the Workforce Development, Small Business and Tourism Committee. He described the evolution of his FMLA proposal from this session, which did not get a hearing, and his plans to address the issue again next session.

"The two laws were not meant to stack, but instead intended for employers to follow either state or federal law, but not both," he said. He proposed legislation the last two sessions that would have clarified the FMLA requirements in Wisconsin, simplifying what has become an administrative burden for hospitals and other businesses in the state. In hospitals, when employees take FMLA, it becomes an even bigger challenge because of the critical nature of maintaining 24/7/365 coverage.

In other Council business, Stephanie Sobczak, WHA’s quality improvement manager, presented information to the group about WHA’s and member hospitals’ participation in the Partners for Patients initiative.

Under a grant from CMS, WHA will be assisting with the development and coordination of collaborative efforts on culture change based on the Just Culture Algorithm. Stephanie asked members already participating in the initiative to describe their Just Culture practice and invited other individuals with any level of Just Culture experience to join the WHA advisory and planning group. This collaborative will be launched by WHA this summer.

Judy Warmuth, vice president of workforce, and Paul Merline, vice president of government affairs reviewed the recently-completed legislative session and focused on workforce policy issues. The Council also engaged in a process of identifying and prioritizing workforce issues and topics for the purpose of assisting WHA staff in preparing for the 2013-14 legislative session and beyond.

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Grassroots Spotlight: Rep. Ribble and Rep. Price Visit St. Vincent Hospital (Green Bay)

Rep. Reid Ribble (R- WI 8th) visited St. Vincent Hospital this past week. Joining him was Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia), a physician with nearly 20 years in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon.

During the visit, Rep. Ribble was able to provide Price insight into how hospitals in Wisconsin continue to provide high quality, cost effective care as they toured the Cancer Center, Emergency Center, Heart Center, Pediatrics and the NICU.

"We are pleased to provide elected officials with the opportunity to tour and understand how care is delivered in our hospital and hospitals across the state," said Heidi Selberg, vice president, strategy & advocacy for Hospital Sisters Health System-Eastern Wisconsin. "When returning to their work in Washington, DC, we encourage legislators to remember these visits and take into account all that hospitals face on a daily basis when caring for the sick."

Both Representatives were impressed with the hospital, the services provided, and the use and availability of technology for patient care, especially for a community the size of Green Bay.

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County Health Rankings Provide Valuable Input

As hospitals develop their community health needs assessments, many have found value in using the County Health Rankings. Released April 3, the new Rankings provide a starting point for a conversation about community health.

The County Health Rankings team synthesizes health information from a variety of national data sources to create the Rankings. Most of the data used are public data available at no charge. Measures based on vital statistics data, sexually transmitted disease rates, and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey data were calculated for by staff at the National Center for Health Statistics and other units of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The same is true for health care quality measures, which were calculated for the Rankings staff by the authors of the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, using Medicare claims data.

Dean Gruner, president and CEO of ThedaCare, was invited to write an op-ed on the value of the County Health Rankings. At WHA’s request and with permission, his column is in this issue of The Valued Voice.

Across Wisconsin, hospitals are playing a vital role in improving population health. At a statewide conference sponsored in March by WHA, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute, more than 140 attendees representing hospitals, public health departments and other health-related community organizations, gathered to learn more about the CHNA planning and implementation processes.

WHA continues to work closely with the UW Population Health Institute to develop and share resources and tools with our members that will enable hospitals to not only meet the requirements for developing and implementing a health assessment, but to hopefully improve the efficiency, effectiveness and overall value of the process and the outcome in Wisconsin communities.

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Guest Column: Rankings Provide Key Information for Creating Healthy Communities
By Dean Gruner, President and CEO, ThedaCare

At ThedaCare we understand that health begins where people live, learn, work, play and worship. If we are serious about improving community health, then we need to be engaged in all these places in the communities we serve. The County Health Rankings, developed by the UW Population Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, help us do that.

First, our health system uses the County Health Rankings model to help stakeholders understand what makes up health. It’s not just about delivery of accessible and high quality health care. It’s about understanding that socioeconomic factors such as income and education play significant roles as do nutrition, exercise and smoking and the environment around us.

With this framework, we use the County Health Rankings data as a valuable input to our strategic planning process. By comparing the results from the counties we serve to state and national benchmarks, we are able to identify key opportunities for health improvement. The Rankings also support our Community Health Action Team (CHAT). CHAT, led by a team of 25 community leaders, conducts one field trip, or "plunge," per year to study systemic health issues in the community and catalyze collaborative action. Local leaders have come face to face with homelessness, domestic violence, smoking, and childhood obesity, to name a few plunge topics. The County Health Rankings helps define the scope of CHAT’s work and provides input for plunge topic selection which leads to collaborative projects that make a real difference in people’s lives. CHAT has led to such initiatives as The Shawano Rural Health Initiative, Project Promise Poverty Coalition, Voices of Men Domestic Violence Initiative, Litworks! Adult Literacy Program, and more.

The County Health Rankings are an invaluable asset to those of us who are passionate about building healthier communities. We encourage everyone to check out their website at www.countyhealthrankings.org for tips on building a stronger community where you live.

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Hospital Foundation Workshop Offered June 5 in Wisconsin Rapids

Hospital foundation directors, their board members and hospital executives are invited to attend a one-day workshop entitled "Prescription for Success: A Workshop for Hospital Foundations." It will be held Tuesday, June 5, at the Hotel Mead in Wisconsin Rapids.

Due to the partnership and support of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health (WORH), the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC), this workshop is available at no cost to hospital and hospital foundation staff; however, pre-registration is required.

The workshop will focus on successful ways of sharing your hospital foundation’s message of impact, the all-important "ask," and how to engage physicians in your fundraising efforts, along with other important topics. It will be led by fundraising and foundation experts Lori Jacobwith and Patty Franson.

To view the full day’s agenda and to register, please visit http://events.SignUp4.com/Foundation12.

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Crisis Preparedness Seminar Aimed at Hospital Spokespersons
Sponsored by WHEPP, seminar features communications plans, spokesperson role

The Wisconsin Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program (WHEPP), in coordination with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, is sponsoring a one-day hospital public information officer seminar in two locations: May 1, 2012 in Madison and May 2, 2012 in Wausau. The seminar will be identical in content each of the two days it is being offered.

David Morris, who was the public information officer at Mercy Regional in Joplin, Missouri when the hospital was hit by a major tornado that ripped the facility apart, will give a presentation.

The seminar will be facilitated by Gerard Braud, an expert in media issues and crisis communications. He is an international media trainer, author and speaker, who has worked with organizations on five continents. Braud has been active in the field of communications since 1979. He has worked in print, radio and television as a front line journalist. His affiliate reports have been seen around the world on NBC, CBS, CNN and the BBC.

The seminars are intended for public information officers, specifically from hospitals, that would like an intermediate-level overview of writing crisis communications plans and learning how to more effectively communicate with media and their communities.

There is no cost for this one-day seminar, however, registration is required. To register, go to www.TRAIN.org, log in, and click on "Course Search." Search by Course ID on the left side and enter Course ID #1032697. (The course is titled "Hospital Public Information Officer Seminars.")

Note: Prior to registration, you must create an account on TRAIN, the statewide public health online training portal, if you do not already have an account. To create an account, go to www.TRAIN.org and follow these steps:

  1. Select your location above the "Create Account" button on the left side.
  2. Click on "Create Account," underneath the login on the left hand side of the screen.
  3. Review and accept the Terms and Conditions.
  4. Fill out all the necessary information on the subsequent pages.
  5. When you have finished, click "Continue" to enter the site.

For more information contact Lori Wallman at lwallman@grantregional.com or Mary Kay Grasmick at mgrasmick@wha.org, or call 608-274-1820.

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WHA Offers e-Learning and Competency Management Solutions to Members Through careLearning and careSkills

Keeping employees trained appropriately and their skills and competencies up-to-date is a constant challenge for hospitals. Through WHA, Wisconsin hospitals have a simple and affordable option to keep employees current on mandatory and other competency training through careLearning.

On May 16, WHA is offering a product information/demonstration webinar at no cost and no obligation for any Wisconsin hospital interested in learning more about how the careLearning system can help deliver, organize and manage staff education. careLearning is a non-profit Internet-based talent management system specifically designed for health care organizations to offer reliable and easily-accessible training to their staff. careLearning is operated by WHA and 40 other state hospital associations, with the mission of offering a valuable and cost-effective resource to our members. The result is an information-only webinar—no hard sell or constant follow-up by a sales rep.

The careLearning services include:

To participate in the product information and demonstration webinar on May 16, scheduled from 10:00 am to 11:00 am CST, register now at: http://events.SignUp4.com/12careLearning0516. For questions, contact Jennifer Frank at jfrank@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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Froedtert Health CEO Petasnick Announces Retirement Plans

William D. Petasnick, long time chief executive officer of Froedtert Health, will step down July 1, 2012. Catherine Jacobson, currently president of Froedtert Health, will succeed Petasnick. He will remain on the board of directors as vice chairman.

Petasnick joined Froedtert Hospital in 1993, and he led the development of Froedtert Health in 2001 when Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls joined with Froedtert Hospital. In 2008, St. Joseph’s Hospital, West Bend, and the West Bend Clinic joined the system.

Petasnick has served as chairman of the American Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Council of Teaching Hospitals. He has a strong track record of effective leadership, a keen understanding of health care and health policy, and a reputation as a collaborator and consensus builder.

"Bill is an outstanding health care executive and we have valued his visionary and thoughtful leadership throughout his tenure in Wisconsin," said WHA President Steve Brenton. "I am pleased to see that Bill will continue to be engaged in the health care field as his insights and experience will help our industry navigate the landscape that lies ahead."

Prior to joining Froedtert Hospital, Petasnick held executive roles at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, University of North Carolina Hospitals at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. In 2006, he was named Rotary Person of the Year by the Milwaukee Chapter. In 2007, Petasnick received an honorary doctorate in health management from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in recognition of his national leadership role in health services administration. He was the first such person to receive this honor from the UW system.

Petasnick is an adjunct associate professor of health management at the University of Iowa. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s in health administration from the University of Minnesota. He serves on numerous nonprofit boards and currently chairs the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, a forum for collaboration among Milwaukee’s health care systems, community health centers, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and state and local health departments with a goal of working together to improve coverage, access and care coordination for Milwaukee’s Medicaid and low-income uninsured populations.

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Larry Nines will Retire as Executive Director of WHEFA

After nearly 30 years as the executive director of the Wisconsin Health & Educational Facilities Authority (WHEFA), Larry Nines is retiring October 1, 2012. Nines has held the executive director position since August, 1983. In his position, he has been involved in the structuring and issuance of over 650 bond issues totaling over $16 billion.

Nines received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Madison. Prior to joining the Authority, he served as assistant treasurer for Allis-Chalmers Credit Corporation. He is an advanced member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

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Wisconsin Hospitals Community Benefits: Physical Activity

Physical activity is a preventive factor for many adverse health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, depression, and bone and joint disease. In communities across Wisconsin, hospitals are dedicating resources and doing what they can to encourage people of all ages to stay active.

Weight-loss challenge helps participants drop 3,848 pounds

Willie Clary knew it was time to make a lifestyle change when he had to lose weight before he could lose weight.

Clary had purchased Wii Fit exercise equipment to help him on his path to losing weight. One problem—the Wii Fit has a 330 lb. weight limit. Clary was 347 at the time.

Clary was the 2011 individual weight-loss winner of the Lakeview Medical Center (LMC) Worksite Weight-loss Challenge program. Through hard work and discipline, he lost 80 lbs. (23 percent of his body weight) during the 12-week program.

"I saw the poster in our break room and decided that it was time for a change," said Clary. "I was always out of breath and summer has always been hard on me."

Following his transformation through the program, Clary looks forward to a lighter, easier summer of healthy activities such as riding bike, golfing and yes, playing Wii Fit.

Four hundred and forty-eight participants representing 112 teams took part in the second annual LMC Worksite Weight Loss Challenge. Four-member teams formed from businesses throughout Rice Lake, Cumberland, Turtle Lake, Shell Lake, Chetek and Hayward. The 12-week program boasts weekly weigh-ins, nutritional counseling and fitness opportunities.

"We have been thrilled with the response," said Char Mlejnek, program coordinator and LMC health promotions director. "We surpassed our participation goals—we had 10 more teams and 40 more individual participants this year."

The program kicks off with an initial weigh-in for all participants. The grand total of that initial weigh-in was 92,139 lbs. By the end of the 12 weeks, 3,848 lbs. had been lost.

"That amount of pounds lost would equal two Cessna airplanes filled to capacity with passengers and fuel," said Mlejnek. "That really puts it into perspective."

Nearly 44 percent of the participants lost 10 percent or more of their body weight.

Clary himself was at stage 3 hypertension prior to participating in the program. He has since seen a 34 point drop in hypertension numbers and is no longer on his medication. His number one recommendation to others trying to lose weight is to drink lots of water—he downed 3-4 32 oz. bottles a day. He also found the Wii Fit to be very helpful in his journey. Clary’s wife even began adopting some of the lifestyle changes and practices he did during the program.

Traci Peterson, a member of the winning challenge team, has also seen great health benefits following the program. With her doctor’s okay, she has cut her blood pressure medication in half. And her blood sugar has dropped from between 120-160 to 70.

Peterson said that the program changed her life. She now has more energy to participate in activities such as snowshoeing and walking her dogs. She needs less sleep. She also knows how to monitor her calories, carbs, sodium and fat intake and is able to make better food choices.

The Worksite Weight-Loss Challenge helps teach employees how to incorporate healthy life choices into both their work and home lives.

Lakeview Medical Center, Rice Lake

"Be-Well" coalition

Overweight and obesity in youth is a rising problem in the United States. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease and is the single biggest predictor of diabetes. The community of Baldwin, WI formed a "Be-Well" coalition to help reduce the risk of obesity in youth in the community.

The "Be-Well" coalition is a collaboration of the Baldwin Area Medical Center (BAMC), Baldwin Medical Group (BMG), and the Baldwin-Woodville School District (BWSD). The group’s mission is to promote a healthy lifestyle in school age children with the goal being to increase wellness in families through healthier food choices and increased physical activities. Our long-range goal is to see an improvement in body mass index (BMI) in school age children, because each year there is a trend of increasing BMI through all age levels.

Last year the group was successful in family participation by offering a number of family activity nights. Each activity night lasted approximately two hours and included group games, food presentations, speakers, and demonstrations. Other than the activity nights, the group also participated in the Baldwin Woodville School District Open House, the Nilssen’s (local grocery store) safety fair, the Greenfield Elementary school picnic, and the Baldwin Area Medical Center Open House. Also, students from Greenfield Elementary participated in National Turn off the TV (Technology) Week and their school’s one-mile walk. The group was grateful to local businesses and members of the community who donated money and time to support these family activity nights and other events during the 2010-2011 school year.

One new addition to the "Be-Well" coalition is the Greenfield Elementary vegetable garden. Through the St Croix Valley Master Gardeners Foundation, the group received a grant for a raised vegetable garden in which the produce will be donated to the local food pantry. In the future, the group hopes to expand the garden and use it as a learning tool for all grades throughout the school district.

Looking ahead to the 2011-2012 school year the "Be-Well" coalition plans to present many of the same activities with the addition of a few new ones. This school year will also include National Walk to School Day, a school wide Fun Run, Brain Breaks in the classroom, and presentations from high school students promoting the new FAD in healthy living.

Baldwin Area Medical Center, Baldwin

Ready Set Fit

Physicians and health care staff at UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center (WRMC) and its area clinics are taking their message from the exam room to the classroom in an effort to educate more young people on the basics of physical fitness, healthy eating, and healthy attitudes.

The program, "Ready, Set, Fit" was designed by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Its four lessons are presented in a manner that reflects the educational curriculum of life sciences and math. It is designed for and offered to third graders at local schools.

Jennifer Coates, the program’s organizer and service area coordinator for WRMC says, "Nationally and locally there is a great need to address the growing issues of childhood obesity and the diseases and health risks it causes. Through Ready, Set, Fit, we are able to do this at the most basic community level." WRMC physicians and health care staff teach the first three lessons, and the classroom teacher teaches the final one.

During the first lesson, a local WRMC physician visits the classroom to discuss the basics of physical fitness, including activity level, food choices, and the importance of good self-care and preventive care beginning at a young age. The second lesson is taught by WRMC fitness specialists who teach kids fun ways to stay active beyond gym class. Coates notes that the kids especially love using the pedometers in the "10,000 step challenge" classroom competition, which also lends itself well to bar graphs and pie charts—a great way to incorporate math concepts.

The third lesson focuses on healthy eating. WRMC teaches beyond the food pyramid, addressing portion sizes, benefits of healthy eating, and the use of senses to enjoy different tastes and textures. The classroom teacher concludes the program with a final lesson that centers on healthy attitudes, respect, and self-esteem.

WRMC offers the program free of charge to its area schools. Since launching the program during the 2009-2010 school year, WRMC has trained more than 800 children at five school districts in Ready, Set, Fit.

Coates says, "The teachers appreciate our ability to directly support their curriculum and the kids enjoy seeing the physicians and staff in their classrooms. Moreover, we are thrilled with the opportunity to support the communities we serve in such a fun, proactive way."

UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center, Watertown

Submit community benefit stories to Mary Kay Grasmick, editor, at mgrasmick@wha.org.

Read more about hospitals connecting with their communities at www.WiServePoint.org.

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