December 7, 2012
Volume 56, Issue 49



Report Finds Hospitals Moderate Health Care Costs in SE Wisconsin
But cost shifting increases costs, slows progress

A study released December 4 by the Greater Milwaukee Business Foundation on Health (GMBFH) shows that the dedicated efforts of hospital systems to reduce operating costs and improve quality in southeast Wisconsin are continuing to have a positive impact on health care costs for area businesses.

The study showed that southeast Wisconsin health insurance premium costs continued to moderate and improve compared to Midwest and national averages. A major factor in this trend is data that shows southeast Wisconsin hospital operating costs and payments have increased at a substantially slower rate than national indices. Key findings from the report include:

The bottom line is that commercial health care premium costs in southeastern Wisconsin, which were 39 percent higher than the Midwest average in 2003, closed the gap to seven percent above the Midwest average as of 2011, the Business Foundation on Health said.

"This report shows (the) continuation of a trend seen since 2007 of a more gradual improvement in premium costs compared to Midwest and national averages," said Ron Dix, the foundation’s executive director.

The health systems’ commitment to reducing operating expenses, improving efficiency and holding the line on price increases ultimately helps boost Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding.

"We know that health care costs affect labor costs and business competitiveness. Health systems in southeast Wisconsin are making very good progress toward improving quality and reducing operating costs, both of which increase the value of area employers’ health dollars," Borgerding said. "While we are moving in the right direction, we know there is still work needed to sustain these promising trends. But that is what makes Wisconsin a leader—our dedication to improvement, drive to deliver quality and willingness to partner with employers and payers."

But the news is not all positive, as cost shifting from government programs continues to be a drag on the system. According to the study, recouping unpaid costs from Medicare and Medicaid accounts for 23 cents of every commercial dollar paid to southeast Wisconsin hospitals. Unpaid costs from Wisconsin’s Medicaid program alone added $205 million to southeast Wisconsin employer health care costs in 2011, according to the study.

"Unfortunately, cost shifting continues to be an anchor," said WHA Senior Vice President Brian Potter. "When government health care programs fail to pay even close to what it costs to deliver care, those shortfalls must be shifted to employers and others, thus tempering some of the progress we are making in overall costs and prices."

Wisconsin’s Medicaid program currently pays hospitals an average base rate of nine percent of their charges for outpatient services.

But overall, the trend for southeast Wisconsin remains very positive, and WHA applauded the study’s sponsors for helping keep employers and providers focused on moderating health care costs.

"The Greater Milwaukee Business Foundation on Health remains an important catalyst for the kind of positive news coming out of southeast Wisconsin," Borgerding said. "They are an example of how employers and providers are working together and engaging in meaningful dialogue about improving health care costs and making Wisconsin a better place to grow and expand jobs."

Read the GMBFH report at www.gmbfh.org/news.php.

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Wisconsin Hospitals to DC, Tell Congress Protect Hospital Care

A dozen Wisconsin hospital leaders joined 200 hospitals advocates from across the country in Washington, DC to tell Congress to "protect hospital care." Their presence was part of the American Hospital Association’s November 29 Capitol Hill day to push back against continued and repeated payments cuts.

Wisconsin hospital leaders in DC included: Therese Pandl, president/CEO, HSHS Eastern WI (Green Bay); John Kosanovich, president/CEO, UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center; John Russell, president/CEO, Columbus Community Hospital; Tim Eckels, HSHS (IL/WI); Heidi Selberg, HSHS-Eastern (Green Bay); Michael Heifetz, SSM/Dean (Madison); Juliet Nguyen, Sacred Heart Hospital (Eau Claire); Jon Sender, UW Hospitals & Clinics (Madison); Nick Hill, St. Joseph’s Hospital (Chippewa Falls); Karla Ashenhurst, Ministry Health System; Jeremy Levin, RWHC; and WHA’s Eric Borgerding and Jenny Boese.

Attendees were in DC to continue the fight against proposed cuts to hospitals and met with the majority of Wisconsin’s delegation, including Senators Kohl and Johnson and Representatives Ryan, Kind, Petri, Duffy, Sensenbrenner and Ribble. See WHA’s follow up letter to Wisconsin’s Members of Congress on these issues at: www.wha.org/Data/Sites/1/advocacy/protectHospCare/2012-hillletter.pdf.

During their meetings, hospital leaders pressed the issue of payment reductions, reminding legislators Wisconsin hospitals are touted as national leaders on delivering high quality, high value care and already face billions of dollars in cuts from health reform implementation, the sequester process and other policies.

"Arbitrary payment cuts as are being considered during the lame duck session and the fiscal cliff negotiations will disadvantage Wisconsin providers because we are already delivering higher value care and have been doing more with less for years," said WHA’s Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding.

Cong. Tom Petri agreed that Wisconsin provides high value care, and said, "You can’t keep cutting procedure payments," referring to Medicare reimbursements cuts on the table. "You have to change the incentive system."

John Kosanovich, president/CEO, Watertown Regional Medical Center, provided unique insight into the impact of Medicare programs which have expired and need Congress to vote on during the lame duck in order for their continuation. Two of those policies are the Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) program and the Low Volume Hospital Adjustment (LVA). UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center is one of four hospitals in Wisconsin impacted by the MDH program. He said that losing both the MDH payment and the transitional outpatient payments, another payment set to expire at the end of the year, would cost his facility $3 million, essentially wiping out the hospital’s entire bottom line. "Our ability to be there for Medicare beneficiaries is significantly impacted by these programs," Kosanovich said.

WHA has aggressively advocated for the continuation of the MDH program and the LVA payment. WHA thanks the following legislators for signing onto legislation, the Rural Hospital Access Act (HR 5943), extending these two programs: Sen. Kohl and Reps. Ribble, Duffy, Baldwin, Sensenbrenner, Petri, and Kind.

During their meetings, Wisconsin hospital leaders focused on multiple payment proposals that could be targeted for cuts by Congress in the lame duck session and beyond. One of those issues was the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program. Under GME, Wisconsin hospitals are provided payments to help offset the costs associated with training residents and running residency programs. Several payments under GME have been targeted by Congress over the past year and, if agreed to, would cost Wisconsin hospitals close to $800 million over 10 years. WHA strongly supports GME and its continuation. Hospital leaders made sure to tell legislators the importance these payments play in the long-term strategy of ensuring physician capacity for Wisconsin citizens.

Hospital leaders also discussed evaluation and management payment cuts, bad debt reductions and coding offsets as well as Wisconsin’s proven track record on value, so much so that this has been an economic advantage for the state. To learn more about these issues and how you can help "protect hospital care," log onto WHA’s "Protect" webpage at www.wha.org/protect-hospital-care.aspx or contact WHA’s Jenny Boese at jboese@wha.org. WHA HEAT members should also watch for an alert this week on how they can help protect hospital care.

WHA thanks our hospital leaders for taking the time to travel to DC for these important meetings and thanks our Members of Congress for their time.

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WHA Behavioral Health Task Force Develops Recommendations
Also discusses mental health legislation

WHA’s Behavioral Health Task Force met via teleconference December 3 and identified 13 recommendations and principles to improve care access and outcomes for individuals with mental health and AODA needs and to continue collaboration and education among mental health and AODA stakeholders.

The recommendations range from exploring new mental health-related educational and policy forums for WHA members, to pursuing policies that enable better, more integrated and cost-efficient care for individuals with mental illness, such as the HIPAA Harmonization/Mental Health Care Coordination bill, to actively exploring with other stakeholders public mental health system reforms that Iowa recently implemented that could be implemented in Wisconsin to improve outcomes and reduce the cost to provide and access public mental health and AODA services. The 13 recommendations and materials supporting those recommendations discussed by the Task Force form the basis of a new WHA Behavioral Health Task Force white paper that the Task Force will be finalizing and releasing in early 2013.

Rogers InHealth stigma reduction efforts

Sue McKenzie, director of Rogers InHealth, a new subsidiary of Rogers Behavioral Health System, was one of two guest speakers during the Task Force meeting. McKenzie provided an overview of their efforts to eliminate mental health stigma through accessible education and advocacy resources for individuals, family and friends, the general public and health care professionals. The Task Force indicated an interest in working with Rogers InHealth in their efforts, and in identifying ways that their work could be incorporated into the Task Force’s new white paper and recommendations.

Suicide prevention and emergency department practices

Shel Gross, director of public policy for Mental Health America – Wisconsin, was also a guest speaker during the meeting. Gross provided information on Henry Ford Health System’s suicide prevention model and informed the group about opportunities for health system staff to attend a two-day workshop at Henry Ford Hospital to learn more about implementing their model. Gross also provided information on Wisconsin United for Mental Health’s care experience project for people with mental illnesses in the emergency department and their interest in connecting with emergency department staff. If you would like additional information about either the Henry Ford suicide prevention model or the Wisconsin United for Mental Health emergency department project, contact WHA’s Matthew Stanford at 608-274-1820 mstanford@wha.org.

HIPAA Harmonization/Mental Health Care Coordination Bill

Removing statutory barriers to the coordination of care for individuals with mental illness by enacting the HIPAA Harmonization/Mental Health Care Coordination bill in the next legislative session has continued to be a goal that the Task Force, WHA, and others have been working toward this year. The Task Force discussed the ongoing efforts of WHA, hospitals, other stakeholders, and individual Task Force members to build support for the bill throughout the state. If you or your hospital know of one or more individuals that work in your hospital or live in your community that would be interested in helping support efforts to pass this bill, please share that information with WHA’s Matthew Stanford at mstanford@wha.org.

Alzheimer’s Study Committee

The Task Force also received an update on the Legislative Council Study Committee on Legal Interventions for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. Dr. Ken Robbins, medical director for Stoughton Hospital Geropsychiatry, and Dr. Gina Koeppl, Northern Region director of behavioral health services for Ministry Health Care, both serve on this committee whose goal is to create draft legislation. This study committee is largely focusing on issues related to the provision of emergency services for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease created by the Helen EF case decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this year.

However, there are concerns that rather than correcting the Helen EF decision’s premise that Alzheimer’s disease cannot be treated, the developing legislation will make it more difficult for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to access and receive appropriate treatment. If your hospital has experienced or seen recent significant difficulties in helping individuals with Alzheimer’s disease get necessary care due to the May 2012 Helen EF decision, please share that information with WHA’s Matthew Stanford at mstanford@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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Annual WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference, March 8-9, 2013
Early bird discount available; register today

Registration is now open for the eighth annual "WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference." The 2013 event is scheduled for Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, and will be held at The American Club in Kohler. The full conference brochure, with agenda, registration and resort information, is included in this week’s packet. Online registration is available at: http://events.SignUp4.com/13PLD.

A discounted "early bird" registration fee is available to those registering by January 18. Additionally, a "host" registration option is available to those hospital representatives/management leaders who would like to accompany their physicians to the conference but do not need CME credit.

This year’s conference will include a full-day session focused on practical ways that physician leaders can successfully engage their colleagues and create buy-in for change, presented by Dr. Stephen Beeson. In addition, Sarah Fontenot, BSN, JD, will present the Saturday morning session, focusing on how the Affordable Care Act will impact physicians, individual patient care, and independent professional decision-making. Both Beeson and Fontenot are nationally-recognized faculty from the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE), and both will discuss important and practical leadership skills that help physician leaders to move beyond their clinical training and take a new approach to managerial decision-making and problem solving.

ACPE is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. ACPE designates this live activity for a maximum of 12 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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President’s Column: Hospital Costs, Wisconsin Competitiveness and Cost Shifting

Just 11 years ago, Milwaukee area hospitals and physician groups were playing defense regarding regional health care costs that were considered to be as much as 55 percent higher than the Midwest average. According to a just-released study by the Greater Milwaukee Business Foundation on Health (GMBFH), that differential has collapsed to seven percent, much of which can be explained by an older workforce and richer employer-provided benefits.

Southeastern Wisconsin hospitals have done a superior job controlling operating costs than have their counterparts in Midwestern peer group communities. Among the many findings, hospital costs, which make up over one third of total medical claims, increased just 18 percent from 2003-2011 compared to a 31 percent jump nationally for the Hospital Producer Price Index. Costs actually decreased in 2011. Remarkable progress quantified in the GMBFH report underscores the ongoing commitment to delivering value to Wisconsin health care purchasers, a dynamic that WHA has been messaging all across Wisconsin this year.

Unfortunately, the study found that 34 percent of commercial insurance hospital-related costs were the direct result of cost shifting—Medicare and Medicaid program underpayment and charity care and bad debt. This is the "hidden tax" that takes such a high toll on Wisconsin employers. Medicaid, for example, pays for hospital outpatient services at less than 20 percent of actual costs. Medicare pays about 80 cents on the dollar. Similar cost shifting is happening in physician offices but is harder to quantify given an absence of consistent reporting.

Hospitals in SE Wisconsin and the rest of the state are clearly doing a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to improving delivery efficiency. Quality scores for Wisconsin providers are among the highest in the nation, and Medicare spending per beneficiary is among the lowest. But likely future Medicare payment cuts and potential Medicaid reductions threaten this progress—while failing to reward value.

This week’s news from D.C. continues to disappoint. Neither political party seems interested in opposing major Medicare provider cuts. While Republicans are suggesting provider cuts and long overdue beneficiary changes including an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility, most Democrats seem fine with cutting provider payments but demand "hands off" about doing anything that might affect seniors. Lawmakers seem to want to believe that whacking providers can occur without consequence. How else can one explain the illogic?

Despite the absence of rationality elsewhere, paying for health care value will continue to be at the foundation of WHA’s state and federal-level advocacy messages.

Steve Brenton
President

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O’Brien Joins WHA Advocacy Team

Kyle O’Brien will be joining WHA as the vice president for Government Relations. He begins December 13, 2012. O’Brien replaces Paul Merline, who after over five years of dedicated service to WHA has decided to pursue other career paths. 

“We wish Paul the best of luck and much prosperity in the future,” said WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding. “We are also very excited to have Kyle on board. He will be a great addition to WHA and the larger hospital and health system lobbying team.”

O’Brien comes most immediately from Farmers Insurance where he served as the government and industry affairs manager for Wisconsin. Prior to joining Farmers, he served as the legislative liaison for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) where he managed various Medicaid, state budget and other health care-related legislative issues. Before moving to DHS, O’Brien was the lead Medicaid/health care staff for then Joint Finance Committee member, now Committee chairman, Rep. John Nygren.

Prior to his work with Rep. Nygren, O’Brien served as director of communications and member outreach for Assembly Majority Leader and then Minority Caucus Chairman Scott Suder and as policy advisor to former State Sen. Dan Kapanke. 

He also currently serves as the mayor’s appointee to the Sun Prairie Alcohol License Review Board. 

O’Brien has a BS in finance and marketing from UW-La Crosse, but health care runs deep in his family. His wife, Laura, is completing her Masters in Occupational Therapy at UW Hospital, and his mother has been an ER nurse at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - All Saints in Racine for 35 years.

“I’m humbled and honored that WHA has asked me to join their team,” said O’Brien. “Hospitals and health care issues impact every facet of our society, our workforce, our economy and most importantly the health of Wisconsin families. I’m excited to be with WHA at such a pivotal time to protect the future of quality and cost-effective health care in Wisconsin.”

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WHA to Sponsor Lunch Briefing on Wisconsin Physician Workforce December 18

The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s release of the report, "100 Physicians A Year: An Imperative for Wisconsin," in 2011 became one of the most cited and respected analysis of the state’s physician workforce. The WHA report predicted the state’s physician shortfall will reach more than 2,000 by 2030—unless significant action is taken. What has happened since the release of the report to avert the shortage?

WHA is sponsoring an event in conjunction with Wisconsin Health News to bring some of the state’s best known experts on the physician shortage to discuss steps that have been taken to date and future actions that will be taken to address the issue. WHA President Steve Brenton will be joined by John Raymond, MD, president and CEO, Medical College of Wisconsin; Robert Golden, MD, dean, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Rick Abrams, CEO, Wisconsin Medical Society in a panel discussion. Karen Timberlake, director of the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, will moderate.

This December 18 luncheon event is hosted and sponsored by the Wisconsin Hospital Association and presented by Wisconsin Health News and Badger Bay Management. The price for lunch is $25 for Wisconsin Health News subscribers and $40 for non-subscribers. Registration and lunch begins at 11:00 a.m., and the event concludes at 1:00 p.m. These events sell out quickly, so register now at https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07e6mthaqh01d8b504&oseq=.

For information on table sponsorships or other questions, contact Tim Stumm at Wisconsin Health News at 608-216-8898 or tstumm@wisconsinhealthnews.com or Eric Ostermann at Badger Bay Management at 920-560-5610 or eric@badgerbay.co.

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Three Health Care Organizations Receive 2012 Wisconsin Forward Awards

Three Wisconsin health care organizations are the most recent Wisconsin Forward Award recipients. Wisconsin Forward Award, the state’s premier organization for assessing and recognizing high-performance management principles, honored the organizations at a ceremony at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison December 5.

Black River Memorial Hospital, Mayo Clinic Health System-Red Cedar, Inc. and Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital earned Mastery recognition awards, demonstrating significant maturity in developing and refining processes that are tied to good results in such areas as building a highly-skilled workforce, financial and organizational performance, and exceptional customer satisfaction and retention.

The organizations submitted applications for review in Wisconsin Forward Award’s winter award cycle, and received site visits from independent examiner teams. All types and sizes of Wisconsin organizations are eligible to apply. Visit www.wisquality.org for more information.

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Severed Fiber Optic Cable in Osceola Puts Hospital Back-up Plan in Action

It can happen in any town—but when a contractor severed a main fiber optic cable and cut all land and cell phone service in Osceola late in the morning November 30, the hospital was ready with a back-up plan.

"We lost three critical functions at once. Cell phone, land phone and satellite phone service were all down citywide right at the peak of our workday in the hospital," according to Rich Haider, emergency preparedness coordinator/environmental safety manager at Osceola Medical Center (OMC). "For about four hours, we could have been pretty isolated from the outside world."

Haider said OMC immediately established an incident command, and because they still had Internet service, he used the statewide web-based WiTrack system to alert all hospitals in northwest Wisconsin that OMC’s communications were down. An immediate need was the ability to contact the medical helicopter service in the event of an emergency patient transfer. To establish contact with the helicopter service, Haider drove outside of Osceola until he could access a cell phone signal, and he activated the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS). GETS is designed to provide 90 percent call completion rates when regular communications systems are not available, which was the situation in Osceola, by using a number of strategies, including re-routing calls to carriers still in service.

In the after action report, Haider said they identified the following improvements that would be made as a result of the incident:

While the communications systems were down, patient care was not disrupted. That speaks well for the emergency planning efforts not just by OMC staff, but from the entire region, according to Jeff Meyer, CEO at Osceola Medical Center.

"We are very appreciative of the training, equipment and resources that the Wisconsin Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program has brought to Osceola Medical Center," Meyer said. "You always hope that you won’t need to activate your emergency plan, but it is really reassuring when you do that it will work as well as ours did."

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Wisconsin Hospitals Community Benefits: Charity Care

Fear of a bill should never prevent a patient from seeking care at a Wisconsin hospital. Wisconsin hospital charity care programs provided $232 million to more than 700 patients each day last year. The stories that follow illustrate the deep commitment and continuing concern that hospitals have to their patients to ensure they receive the care they need regardless of their ability to pay.

Community Care provides relief for Wheaton Franciscan patient with irregular heartbeat

Four years ago, George Olwell, a genial 72-year-old, got a shock. Tests showed he had a heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, and he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation severe enough to require treatment. George went through a regimen of medications, surgery, and other options. As his medical expenses mounted, so did his frustration – nothing seemed to be helping.

George was finally referred to Dr. Peter Chapman at Wheaton Franciscan – The Wisconsin Heart Hospital Campus. Dr. Chapman performed an ablation procedure on George’s heart that put George on the road to recovery.

That recovery stumbled when he received a bill for the surgery. George was covered under Medicare, but not at 100%. With no additional insurance and four years of medical office visits, tests and procedures under his belt, George already faced significant debt. This final surgery pushed his finances over the brink.

After sharing his concerns with Dr. Chapman’s office, George was referred to a Wheaton Franciscan financial counselor. Several options were explored and discarded – George was not eligible for Medicaid or other government programs, some of his bills from other providers had been sent to collections, and bankruptcy was a very real possibility. But his financial counselor held out hope for one last option – Wheaton’s Community Care program.

Community Care is a program offered through Wheaton Franciscan for patients in need of financial assistance. Patients are evaluated for financial eligibility and if appropriate, given a discount on services provided at Wheaton facilities. In George’s case, Wheaton provided the care not covered by Medicare. In addition, he receives a discount on his follow-up care.

Remaining healthy is important to George. He visits his former wife every day. She is in a nursing home with cancer and dementia, and George feeds her meals.

"Having Dr. Chapman fix me up was a terrific physical relief," shared George.

"Getting the help I needed to pay the bills was a big mental relief. Without that relief, I wouldn’t be able to do what I need to do right now. I really appreciate Wheaton’s Community Care program."

Wheaton Franciscan - The Wisconsin Heart Hospital


"No Place to Go"

Access to routine medical care provides a number of challenges for many people.

When emergency care is needed, quick decisions can make the difference between life and death, but what many people fail to realize is that proper follow-up and monitoring is equally important.

It’s hard to imagine what goes through a person’s mind when they know they need immediate medical care, but also realize they have no means to pay for it.

That was the case of a 49-year old man who was transported to Ministry Saint Clare’s in Weston recently from a homeless shelter in Portage County.

Complaining of chest pain, he was evaluated and prepared for a heart catheterization that eventually discovered serious signs of heart disease and the need for open heart surgery.

After successful treatment and recovery, case management staff at Ministry Saint Clare’s quickly realized they had a major issue on their hands because the man had no job because of his health condition, no family in the area and no place to go upon discharge.

"Typically we make sure all of our heart patients can be discharged to an environment where they have access to someone who is available to supervise and assist them 24/7," said Mark Moser, director of case management at Ministry Saint Clare’s. "Clearly in this case, the homeless shelter could not provide what he needed, and we knew we could not send this person back on the street."

Left without many options, Moser and his staff set the wheels in motion to do the only thing they could think of to ensure his care: readmit him to the hospital.

In short order they were able to get a commitment from the Hospitalist Program to supervise his care until he was fit for discharge to the community and could once again get access to resources in his home town.

Costs for his care will ultimately be written off by Ministry Saint Clare’s, and Moser takes great pride in the fact that staff came together to "live the Ministry mission."

"When you consider that we had a patient without the ability to pay that had gone through open-heart surgery, but still had care needs, it was comforting to easily secure support from our leaders to provide a safe place for him to stay," added Moser. "We knew it was the right thing to do because he had no place to go."

Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital, Weston


Mom is grateful Theda Clark helped son with more than $17,000 in medical bills

An accident at home left major medical expenses for Town of Menasha resident Jeffrey Beltz.

Beltz’s accident happened on Thanksgiving Day when he fell down the basement stairs and landed on his head.

"He bruised his brain and cracked a bone over his ear," said his mother, Sandy Beltz, who lives next door to Jeffrey, 25. "He was paralyzed on the side of his face," she added, noting the accident could have been much worse. "He’s so lucky."

The family also experienced more luck when, while at the hospital, they were told they could apply for ThedaCare’s Caring Hearts Financial Assistance Program. "I would have never have thought to apply or ask," she said, noting the nurse who told them about it "was an angel."

Sandy Beltz said the application process was amazingly quick. "I thought it was going to be one of those long and lengthy things," she said. "Someone called me right away. It took a big load off our shoulders."

The program covered $17,373.82 for expenses at Theda Clark Medical Center.

She added that her son is grateful to have support from Caring Hearts. He was unemployed and uninsured at the time of the accident. With the mounting medical costs, she had worried her son would need to take out a loan to cover the medical expenses.

"We are very thankful to the Caring Hearts for helping with his hospital bill," she said, adding that her son was able to get a payment plan for his remaining payments.

She said her son is doing much better and the bruising on his brain will take a year to heal.

"He’s a very lucky boy," said Sandy Beltz.

Theda Clark Medical Center, Neenah


When injury means no work

A 29-year-old presented in the emergency department with a severe ankle injury. Due to this injury, he would have to undergo surgery. The patient was concerned because he had no health insurance and did not qualify for any state or county assistance. He would also have medical expenses due to his follow-up care. He was unemployed at this time, and would not be able to go back to work until he recovered from this injury. He completed Upland Hills Health’s Uncompensated Care application. Based on his financial situation and his medical need, he was granted an Uncompensated Care discount for these services and for the follow-up services.

Upland Hills Health, Dodgeville

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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