February 4, 2011
Volume 55, Issue 5


Governor Walker Describes Dire Budget in State of the State Address
Says state’s economic and fiscal crisis includes Medicaid challenges that cannot be ignored

On a night that saw much of southern Wisconsin pounded by a mammoth blizzard, Governor Walker used his State of the State address to outline the extremely difficult fiscal environment the state is facing and the tough choices he and state lawmakers must grapple with as they seek solutions to balance the state budget.

"The decisions we face are not easy and the solutions we must approve will require true sacrifice," Walker said. "But, the benefit of finally making these tough decisions and being honest with the citizens of this state will help us to balance the budget in a way that creates a permanent, structurally-sound state budget."

Walker described Wisconsin’s budget situation as an "economic and fiscal crisis" and pointed specifically to the challenges in Medicaid as among those that cannot be ignored. The unprecedented financial pressure for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program continues to mount with ever-escalating demands for Medicaid services (also see President’s Column).

A more than $150 million dollar Medicaid deficit for the next six months helped drive Governor Walker’s decision to develop a budget repair bill, and the anticipated over $1.8 billion shortfall for the program in the next biennium, beginning July 1, is a significant portion of the state’s overall $3.2 billion budget deficit.

While Walker’s address did not include significant detail on what his upcoming budget may look like, he did say changes in public employee benefits will be proposed, including asking public employees to make a pension payment of just over 5 percent and a health insurance premium payment of 12 percent.

Governor Walker will make additional details known at his upcoming budget address, scheduled February 22.

Top of page


Politico Founder Jim VandeHei to Keynote Advocacy Day, April 27
Registration now open

"Advocacy Day was a rousing success!" – a hospital employee
"Thanks again for a great day. I am looking forward to next year and already have volunteers who want to attend." – a hospital director of volunteer services
"Based on feedback from our group, the highlight of the day was the visit to the capitol." – a hospital director
"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent my hospital [in the Capitol]." – a hospital volunteer

Advocacy Day is one of the best ways your hospital employees, trustees and volunteers can make an impact in Madison. The above are just a few of the comments WHA received after last year’s event, so make sure you are assembling your hospital contingent now for this year’s event set April 27, 2011 at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Registration is now open.

As always, WHA has a great lineup of speakers, including morning keynote Jim VandeHei, luncheon keynote Governor Scott Walker (invited) and the perennially popular legislator panel discussion.

VandeHei is the co-founder and executive editor of Politico, the highly-influential political newspaper and Web site that Washingtonian Magazine recently hailed as a "media phenomenon." With a close-up view of what really happens in Washington, VandeHei will bring a frontline journalist’s insight and insider knowledge of Congress and the White House to Advocacy Day attendees. Prior to founding Politico, VandeHei spent time at The Washington Post and Roll Call. He is a Wisconsin native.

The highlight of Advocacy Day is always the hundreds of attendees who take what they’ve learned during the day and put that into action by meeting with their legislators in the State Capitol in the afternoon. With the State Capitol only a scant two blocks away (transportation will be available), you can speak up on behalf of your hospital by meeting with your legislators or their staffs. The state budget will be unveiled soon, and legislators are facing a difficult budget already billions of dollars in deficit. Hospitals need to meet with their legislators and make sure they are telling them about the value they provide to their communities and how program changes, like to the Medicaid program, will impact Wisconsin hospitals.

Last year one attendee had this to say about being involved in Advocacy Day: "Throughout the day, I realized that I have some passion for getting more involved with policy formation and local legislation that impacts me as a consumer of health care but also as a leader in the health care industry…I feel compelled to take a more active role."

You, too, can take that more active role in the legislative process by joining with more than 650 of your peers from across the state at Advocacy Day 2011 on April 27. Register today. A complete program and easy online registration are available at http://events.SignUp4.com/AdvocacyDay. A printed copy of the Advocacy Day 2011 brochure is included in this week’s Friday Packet.

For Advocacy Day questions, contact Jenny Boese at 608-268-1816 or jboese@wha.org. For registration questions, contact Lisa Littel at llittel@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

Top of page


Federal District Judge Declares PPACA Unconstitutional
"Must stand or fall as a single unit"

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA" or "the Act"), the federal health care reform legislation, was found unconstitutional this week by a federal district court judge in Florida. Wisconsin, 25 other states, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and two private citizens had challenged the constitutionality of the law in that district.

In his 78-page decision finding that the federal government does not have the authority to require an individual to purchase health insurance, Judge Roger Vinson emphasized that the "case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation, or whether it will solve or exacerbate the myriad problems in our health care system at all. It is principally about our federalist system, and it raises very important issues regarding the Constitutional role of the federal government." Judge Vinson concluded that, "the individual mandate seeks to regulate economic inactivity, which is the very opposite of economic activity. And because activity is required under the Commerce Clause, the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law."

Judge Vinson next addressed whether the individual mandate is severable from the remainder of the Act. After considering Congress’ and others’ statements that the mandate "is absolutely essential to the Act’s overarching goal of expanding the availability of health insurance coverage," Judge Vinson wrote, "[T]he individual mandate was an essential and indispensible part of the health reform efforts, and that Congress did not believe other parts of the Act could (or would want them to) survive independently. I must conclude that the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed."

Reacting to district court decision, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said, "Judge Vinson has confirmed the conclusion I reached when this law was enacted. Congress is free to reform health care, but it must do so in a Constitutional manner. It simply does not have the authority to require people to either purchase health insurance or pay a fine."

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that her department is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to determine the administration’s legal options but that the federal government will move forward with its implementation of health reform. The Justice Department, which represents the Obama Administration in the case, intends to appeal the case to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. It is expected that the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately will decide the constitutionality of PPACA. A copy of the decision is available at: www.doj.state.wi.us/news/files/Dkt150-OrderGrantingSJ.pdf.

Top of page


WHA HIT Task Force Comments on Stage 2 Meaningful Use
Hospitals also encouraged to complete EHR survey next week

WHA’s HIT Task Force met February 3 via teleconference and primarily discussed the development of a 2011 Wisconsin hospital EHR/meaningful use survey and a Federal advisory committee’s recommendations for Stage 2 meaningful use rulemaking.

EHR Survey

The Task Force moved forward with a follow up survey to last year’s survey of Wisconsin hospitals on Stage 1 meaningful use. Core purposes of the 2011 survey will be to:

Hospital CFOs and information services leaders (CIOs, etc.) should look for an email invitation to the online survey from WHA next week.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use

The Task Force also discussed the Health Information Technology Policy Committee’s (Policy Committee) draft recommendations for Stage 2 meaningful use rulemaking. The Policy Committee is an advisory committee to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), and its recommendations represent the first official step toward the development of Stage 2 meaningful use rules. Official proposed rules from Health and Human Services, and a second opportunity for comments, are not expected until later this year. Final rules are not currently anticipated before December 2011.

Overall, the Task Force expressed concerns that the Policy Committee’s recommendations for Stage 2 meaningful use are too ambitious, inflexible, and often lack clarity. As a result, members expressed concern that the proposed standards could discourage providers’ participation in the incentive program and not encourage widespread adoption of EHR technologies.

In particular, the Task Force raised concerns that the Policy Committee’s proposals reverted back to an "all or nothing" approach to meaningful use where hospitals would be required to meet at least 10 new functionality requirements (a total of over 30 requirements) compared to Stage 1 meaningful use. Especially troubling is that if these recommendations were adopted in rule, hospitals that elect to receive Medicare EHR incentive payments in FFY 2011 could face a scenario where the Stage 2 rule is finalized in December 2011 and the hospital would have to implement the new functionalities by October 2012 (only nine months) or risk losing a year’s payment under the Medicare EHR incentive program.

WHA and AHA are each developing a comment letter to the Policy Committee on its proposed recommendations. Comment letters are due February 25. A copy of the Policy Committee’s recommendations and instructions for submitting comment letters can be found here: http://healthit.hhs.gov/media/faca/MU_RFC%20_2011-01-12_final.pdf

Top of page


President’s Column: Medicaid Must be Protected as a "Safety Net" Program

As Governor Walker outlined in his State of the State address on February 1, Wisconsin is facing an historic budget environment, and nowhere is the sea of red ink deeper than the Medicaid program where the challenges and choices will be difficult and painful. The era of raiding segregated funds and deploying one-time revenue gimmicks has passed. And there will be no help from Washington D.C. this year.

The problem with Wisconsin’s Medicaid program is that we have ballooned enrollment by more than 300,000 lives since 2007 while removing hundreds of millions of dollars in baseline funding from the Medicaid budget and backfilled that deficit with one time federal funds, a raid of the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund and a few accounting gimmicks. The prior Administration’s solution to the coming perfect storm was to rely on another federal stimulus bill and enact new provider taxes on physicians and pharmacists.

What we need to focus on going forward is the fact that Medicaid provides health care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. It is an essential safety net statewide, and especially crucial in Milwaukee, Racine, Beloit, Ashland and other communities, urban and rural, hit hard by the recession, which lingers especially as it relates to private sector job creation. The safety net must be preserved.

Medicaid has never paid providers well. Reimbursement rates for hospitals and doctors are far less than costs of providing high quality care to the Medicaid population. But hundreds of millions in unpaid costs are shifted to Wisconsin employers, driving up their health insurance premiums and making Wisconsin a less competitive place for businesses to grow and create jobs. This dynamic must be part of the calculus that goes into "fixing" Medicaid.

WHA staff continues to work with Governor Walker’s health team and the Legislature to find innovative, balanced solutions that meet three key principles: 1) recognizing Wisconsin’s difficult budget reality; 2) preserving access to Medicaid for our most vulnerable citizens and those with no other coverage options; and 3) minimizing the impact of heightened cost shifting on current and future Wisconsin employers.

Steve Brenton
President

Top of page


DQA Issues Statewide Variance for Respiratory Therapy Orders
"To ensure regulatory consistency"

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Division of Quality Assurance has released a memo to inform hospitals of a statewide variance of DHS 124.22(4) related to respiratory therapy orders. The variance will make the state regulation concerning this issue consistent with the federal Conditions of Participation.

Beginning October 1, 2010, the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for hospitals allow a qualified, licensed practitioner who is responsible for the patient and acting within the scope of their practice to order respiratory or rehabilitative services. See 42 CFR 482.57. CMS also notified state survey agencies about the change, providing the following summary:

CMS revised the existing requirements at §482.57 to allow qualified, licensed practitioners as well as physicians, to order respiratory care services as long as such privileges are authorized by the medical staff and are in accordance with both hospital policies and procedures and State laws. As is required under the CoPs for all patient orders, the ordering practitioner must also be an individual who is responsible for the care of the patient. The revised rule also requires that all orders for these services be documented in accordance with the requirements at §482.24, Medical records.

The memo from DQA concludes, "To ensure regulatory consistency, pursuant to this memo, effective immediately the Division of Quality Assurance is issuing a statewide variance for DHS 124.22(4) to allow licensed practitioners, who are authorized via their practice act and are granted privileges by the medical staff of the hospital, to order respiratory care services."

A copy of the memo is available at: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/rl_dsl/Publications/11-004.htm.

Top of page


Grassroots Spotlight: New Legislators Visit District Hospitals
Rep. Severson, MD, at Amery Regional; Rep. Klenke at St. Vincent Hospital

Wisconsin hospitals continue hosting their legislators for visits and discussions on important health care issues. Recently, State Rep. Erik Severson, MD, spent several hours with the senior management team at Amery Regional Medical Center (ARMC).

Rep. Severson joins State Sen. Pam Galloway as the only physicians in the State Legislature. Both were newly elected this past November.

Severson, a practicing emergency room physician at Osceola Medical Center, has four hospitals in his district: Amery Regional Medical Center, Burnett Medical Center, Osceola Medical Center, and St. Croix Regional Medical Center.

"It’s great Dr. Severson is directly involved in health care, but I think it was important for ARMC to be able to reinforce the problems both his hospital and ours experience, like Medicaid reimbursement," said ARMC CEO Mike Karuschak. "We believe this visit was very valuable and are thankful Rep. Severson was able to meet with us. We look forward to a continued dialogue."

In addition to discussing the upcoming state budget situation, hospital leaders also provided information on the economic impact ARMC has on the local community. Rep. Severson then made sure ARMC was aware of recent state legislative action taken that made Health Savings Accounts tax-deductible in Wisconsin. Many businesses, including hospitals and the Wisconsin Hospital Association, utilize HSAs.

State Rep. John Klenke (R-88th Assembly District) visited one of the three hospitals in his district recently. He was hosted by HSHS St. Vincent Hospital of Green Bay.

Top of page


WHA Council Reviews Mortality Rate Study; Quality Improvement Act

The results of a study designed to analyze apparent changes in mortality rates were shared with the WHA Medical and Professional Affairs Council at their February 3 meeting in Madison. The study was in response to what appeared to be an increasing number of rural hospitals having higher than expected mortality rates, as reported by The Alliance as part of their Quality Counts report.

WHA has been working with The Alliance and Rural Wisconsin Healthcare Collaborative to analyze the apparent changes in mortality rates. The group did multiple analyses of the data and held a focus group with hospitals to better understand the trend. The analysis found that rural hospitals, which are largely critical access hospitals, are less likely to code all co-morbidities which results in artificial inflation of the actual-to-expected mortality rate. They also found fairly wide variation in the use of hospice services, due in part to access and cultural acceptance of hospice in rural communities. The third finding was the wide variation in the use of diagnosis codes that indicate the patient was receiving comfort care, which if coded consistently, could be used to better understand mortality rates.

Cheryl Demars from the Alliance noted that the findings have "national significance." Long-term solutions the group is pursuing include potential revisions to ICD-9 coding to better designate patients receiving comfort care, education of rural coding staff on the importance of capturing all appropriate codes, and advocacy work to promote better use of hospice services.

Quality Improvement Act Passes

Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer, reviewed the newly-passed Quality Improvement Act and how the changes will affect peer review and quality improvement activities. The key changes include:

  • Protection of incident/occurrence reports used in peer review

  • Protection of statistical data used for internal evaluations

  • Clarification that peer review can include people from multiple organizations

  • Protection of peer review records "presented to" another peer review organization

  • Alignment of the definition of "abuse and neglect" to the administrative code

  • Limiting ordinary negligence that occurs as part of normal scope of work to civil, not criminal, actions

  • Prohibiting reports to and interviews with state surveyors from being used in a civil or criminal case

Court noted that WHA will be scheduling a webinar to provide additional clarification and education later this month.

Wisconsin Physician Shortage – Who Will Care for Our Patients?

Chuck Shabino, MD, WHA senior medical officer, provided an update on WHA’s response to the pending physician shortage. A report prepared by the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce in 2008 noted that Wisconsin is currently short 400 physicians with the most acute shortages in rural and inner city areas. The specialties affected the most by these shortages include family practice, internal medicine, psychiatry and general surgery. With the aging population, increased utilization of health care and changing physician demographics it is estimated this shortage will grow to 4,000 physicians by 2030. The WHA Board has appointed a task force to update the report with current data and recommend actions to address these shortages. Shabino also reviewed data that demonstrates that if physicians attend medical school and complete their residency in Wisconsin, they are much more likely to establish a practice here. Expanding capacity in the medical schools and residency programs will be key to bridging the projected gaps.

Legislative Council Study Committee on Healthcare Access - Update

The Legislative Council Study Committee on Health Care Access has been meeting since August with a purpose of increasing access to primary care in Wisconsin. After five meetings, with at least one to go, the likely recommendations will include:

  • Mandatory data collection on re-licensure for physicians, PAs, dentists, hygienists, pharmacists and mental health workers. The goal would be better workforce planning as well as enhanced support for HIPSA designations for Wisconsin.
  • Expanded immunization administration authority for pharmacists to include individuals under age 18. The age (over 7 years or over 12 years) and the number of vaccines (only flu to all immunizations) have not yet been determined.
  • Higher expectations of Wisconsin’s two medical schools for admitting Wisconsin students, providing education in and on rural health, and increasing capacity. This specific recommendation will be worked out that the February 17 meeting. It is clear that the committee will not settle for just a ‘report’ on the topic, but will expect action from the schools.

Other discussion at committee meetings has included the need for additional residencies in Wisconsin, utilization of advanced practice providers and a possible osteopathic medical school.

Supervision of Physician Assistants

The Medical Examining Board plans to introduce a change to the administrative rules regulating physician supervision of physician assistants (PA). Anne Hletko, PA, of the Wisconsin PA Council presented a draft of those changes, provided a rationale for the changes and requested input from the Council on both her proposal and PA supervision in general.

Council members were in general agreement with the need for changes to the rule, especially the limitation of two PAs concurrently supervised, but recommended that standards for supervision be based on quality measures and patient outcomes rather than by a limitation of numbers or by no limitation at all.

Hletko invited and encouraged continued feedback from WHA and the Council members.

Legislative Study Committee on Emergency Detention and Chapter 51

The goal of the Legislative Study Committee on Emergency Detention and Chapter 51 is to develop legislation to update Wisconsin’s emergency detention and children’s mental health laws. Hospitals are represented by George Kerwin, CEO, Bellin Health Care and chair of WHA’s Behavioral Health Task Force, and Dr. Gina Koeppl, regional director of Ministry Health Care-Northern Region’s behavioral services. Several recommendations shared with the Committee that are contained in WHA’s Behavioral Health Task Force’s White Paper were well received, including:

  • Creation of a privately-run and funded Wisconsin Emergency Detention Collaborative Council to identify best practices. (Jointly proposed by WHA and Wisconsin Counties Association to the Committee)
  • Development of an emergency detention process and outcomes measures for county agencies and others.
  • Require county mental health boards to include hospital and law enforcement representation.
  • Revision of who may initiate an emergency detention.

A summary of progress on the WHA Behavioral Health Task Force’s White Paper recommendations was also provided.

Top of page


Shawano Medical Center Employee Flu Vaccination Rate Reaches 90 Percent Mark in 2010-2011

Over her 25-year tenure at Shawano Medical Center, Employee Health Nurse April Tainter, RN, has probably heard every excuse imaginable from employees who initially refuse the flu vaccination. But that hasn’t stopped her from attaining what is the Medical Center’s highest vaccination rate to date—90 percent in 2010-2011. It is among the highest hospital employee flu vaccination rates in the state.

"We’ve been steadily increasing our rate over the years. We would have reached 90 percent last year if we had not run out of vaccine," Tainter explains. "The biggest obstacle in my work is dispelling the misconceptions that some of our employees associate with the influenza vaccine."

Tainter’s personal touch with employees and the tenacity with which she approaches her work are both factors in the Medical Center’s successful employee flu vaccination program. The majority of the employees are on board early to be immunized, but according to Tainter, there are about 10-15 percent of the employees that are hesitant and she uses a number of methods to reach out to them. Education, sometimes delivered directly by Tainter, can sometimes turn a "no" into a "yes."

"It’s harder for an employee to refuse the vaccination when I’m standing right there near their work station and their co-workers often encourage fellow employees to be immunized, so peer pressure certainly comes into play," Tainter said.

When the flu mist was introduced, Tainter said they saw some employees who had refused a shot in the past agree to take the mist. Tainter estimates that about 10-15 percent of the hospital’s employees prefer the flu mist.

Why should health care workers be immunized against the flu?

"It helps employees and their families stay well during the flu season. We can’t care for patients if we don’t stay well ourselves," she said. "Sometimes employees come to me and tell me how they and their entire family got ‘slammed’ with the flu the previous year and they are eager to avoid being that ill this year."

Top of page


WHA Quality Center to Launch Value-Based Purchasing Tools and Reports

On January 13, 2011, CMS released the Medicare Value-Based Purchasing proposed rule. This begins the process of implementing, by 2013, the first nationwide pay for performance program. WHA has been closely following the development of the VBP program and has been keeping member hospitals apprised of new developments. In October, 2010, at the Quality and Finance workshop in Stevens Point, guest presenters from the South Carolina Hospital Association previewed an Excel-based VBP score tracking tool that provides hospitals with a mechanism to apply their "just-in-time" data to the CMS scoring model. "In addition to reports based on the most current Hospital Compare data, this tool will give hospitals a rough estimate of how their current quality results may impact future financial performance," according to Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer.

As a result, WHA partnered with the South Carolina Hospital Association to develop a VBP Score Tracking Template populated with Wisconsin data. Quality managers and others will have access to several reports generated by HANYS which are specific to quality measures. Several WHA member hospitals participated in a pilot project to test a Wisconsin version of the tool, as well as new secure-report access on the WHA Quality Center website. WHA would like to thank the following hospital quality and finance staffs for volunteering to pilot these new tools:

- Aurora Health Care

- Bellin Health

- Community Memorial Hospital

- Froedtert

- Howard Young Medical Center

- Memorial Health Center, Medford

- Mercy Health System

- Ministry Saint Joseph’s

- Saint Mary’s Rhinelander

- Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital

- St. Mary’s Madison

- Waukesha Memorial Hospital

- Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

WHA member hospitals can learn more about the Value Based Purchasing program, and how to access the new tools and reports by attending a webinar, Value Based Purchasing – New Tools for Hospitals on February 18 at Noon. For more information, contact Stephanie Sobczak at ssobczak@wha.org or Kelly Court at kcourt@wha.org or by calling 608-274-1820. To register for the webinar, please use this link to the online registration system.  Quality Managers are especially encouraged to attend this webinar.

Aligning Forces for Quality is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, through a grant to the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality. In Wisconsin, Aligning forces for Quality is a joint project by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, Wisconsin Hospital Association, and other organizations.

Top of page


Wisconsin Hospitals Community Benefits: Access to High Quality Health Services

Hospitals do what they can to move health care services out of the clinical setting into the heart of the community. Community health screenings and education classes help raise awareness of small, and sometimes, big steps that individuals can take to improve their health. When people learn more about how their lifestyle decisions affect their health, they make changes that ultimately lead to better health, which raises the health status of the entire community.

Prostate cancer screenings

To encourage area men to have an annual prostate cancer screening, CMH and Prevea Health partnered to offer free appointments. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings for all men age 50 to 65, men over 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, and African American men over age 45. Caught early, prostate cancer can be successfully treated.

Men in any of these risk groups were invited to this free screening. CMH sent a targeted mailing about the free screenings to all men in Oconto County over the age of 50. The screenings included a blood test to measure PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen) and a brief physical exam.

The free prostate cancer screenings were part of a CMH Cancer Awareness Event which also included free breast cancer risk assessments, quitting smoking strategies, and the iconic St. Vincent Regional Cancer Collaborative Hope Is . . . interactive exhibit.

Community Memorial Hospital, Oconto Falls

Men benefit from free prostate cancer screening

It is anticipated that 32,060 men will die due to prostate cancer in 2010. Motivated by this terrible projection, Memorial Health Center once again held its annual free prostate screening for area men in an effort to help detect this cancer in its early stages when it is often curable. Memorial Health Center has offered this free screening, which includes a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test of the blood and a digital rectal exam (DRE), since 1996.

This year, results from the screening revealed that 20 of the 231 men screened (8.65%) had either abnormal PSA scores or abnormal DRE results. Because early prostate cancer has no symptoms, screening tests like the PSA and DRE are the most common means of detecting the presence of prostate cancer. Abnormal PSA or DRE results indicate that additional testing is needed to determine if there is indeed cancer present.

The 20 men whose results were abnormal were contacted by phone within two days of the screening to inform them of their results and to encourage them to schedule a follow-up appointment with a medical professional. The remaining men received a letter within two weeks reporting and explaining their results. A copy of each man’s results was also sent to his medical provider, if so requested.

Memorial Health Center – An Aspirus Partner, Medford

Free mammograms to eligible women

During the months of July and August, Fort HealthCare promoted mammogram screenings to local women. Since mammograms are an integral part of health and wellness for women, we encouraged eligible women to come in during the typically slower summer season, instead of waiting until the big push in October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Women who are un- or underinsured are eligible for free mammograms, courtesy of the Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation. Vouchers from the Foundation are available year round, but during this promotion we distributed them to many women in our service area. For the ease of the patient, vouchers could be obtained through the Jefferson County Health Department or within any of Fort HealthCare’s clinics.

Fort HealthCare, Fort Atkinson

Fit for Life

In order to provide health screenings and education to community members who may not otherwise receive these important services, Memorial Health Center sponsored several booths at the "Fit for Life" Health, Wellness & Recreation Show in Phillips, Wisconsin.

Memorial Health Center staff offered diabetes and cholesterol screenings, car seat safety education, and tips on getting a proper athletic shoe fit, free of charge to all in attendance.

Of the 71 people who underwent the diabetes screening, eight people were identified as being in the pre-diabetes range and four people with pre-existing Type 2 diabetes were found to have above optimal blood sugars. Of the 56 people who participated in the cholesterol screening, 42 had at least one area of their lipid panel results outside the healthy range. Detailed information about what their results mean and what steps to take next were provided to all those undergoing a screening.

Memorial Health Center – An Aspirus Partner, Medford

Rural First Responders Program receives support from Luther Midelfort Oakridge

In central Wisconsin, where the hills are rolling and herds of farm animals roam along grassy slopes, there are also emergencies requiring assistance from first responders.

First responders are volunteers trained in first aid emergency care who live in and respond to emergency calls because they are closer to the emergency location. First responders are on the scene first during the time an ambulance is en route with higher level emergency care.

Luther Midelfort Oakridge in Osseo, Wisconsin, helps support the first responder program in its communities by donating medical supplies. There are five agencies serving approximately 16 townships, villages and cities in Trempealeau, Eau Claire, Jackson and Clark Counties in Wisconsin. These counties consist of primarily rural farming areas where a vast array of emergency situations can happen at any time.

In 2009, Luther Midelfort Oakridge donated more than $3,000 to first responders in those agencies. Items donated included cold packs, 4 x 4 dressings, exam gloves, advanced airways, diabetic medications and epinephrine pens.

Augusta first responder Kris Johnson recalls a time when one of those items helped save a life. "We’ve responded to scenes in our rural areas, where someone has had a reaction to a bee sting—this is where timing is paramount in our response and without having that EpiPen, it wouldn’t be a good outcome," she says.

Johnson added that, with ever-increasing costs for medical supplies, Augusta-Bridge Creek First Responders rely heavily on donations from Luther Midelfort Oakridge, which helps provide excellent at-scene care for community members. Luther Midelfort Oakridge has provided supplies for some of the most expensive equipment like EpiPens, advanced airways like King and Combitube, airway adjuncts and C-collars.

"Because of Luther Midelfort Oakridge’s support, we have the ability to use more community donations to advance our training, which has a direct affect on patient care. Thank you Luther Midelfort Oakridge for all your support," said Johnson.

Luther Midelfort Oakridge, Osseo


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.

Top of page