April 20, 2012
Volume 56, Issue 16

Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision Fails to Clarify Physician’s Duty to Inform
Brenton: "The decision runs counter to our efforts in Wisconsin to reform health care"

A newly-released Wisconsin Supreme Court (Court) decision could open the door to patients requesting—and physicians ordering—additional tests and diagnostic procedures that will drive up health care costs without any appreciable improvement in quality.

In a joint statement released April 17, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), the Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) and the Wisconsin Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (WACEP) expressed their disappointment that the Court’s decision in Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=81164) failed to clarify the scope of a physician’s duty to inform patients about treatment and diagnostic options the physician does not recommend.

"Without a majority of the justices agreeing on the current standard in Wisconsin, the decision leaves physicians in the difficult position of not knowing how much information they should provide to a patient about tests for diagnoses already ruled out by the physician," according to WHA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Laura Leitch.

An amicus brief submitted on behalf of Dean Health System, Marshfield Clinic and Gundersen Lutheran Health System pointed out that "the most expensive piece of medical equipment is the doctor’s pen, and one result from expanding the informed consent duty to all conditions listed on a doctor’s differential diagnosis will be the increased use of the doctor’s pen to order tests and procedures." The brief was prepared by Attorney Karen Gallagher with Coyne, Schultz, Becker and Bauer.

Obtaining a patient’s meaningful consent before performing treatment and diagnostic procedures is a fundamental part of the patient–physician relationship. But the Court decision places a heavy burden on both the patient and physician, as Attorney Guy DuBeau, Axley Brynelson, illustrated in a brief filed on behalf of WHA, the Society and WACEP.

"To give a patient a meaningful choice of rejecting a diagnosis, physicians would need to explain all the varied factors that led the physician to the diagnosis made, how various tests were chosen and how various results were interpreted and weighed. Without recapping what was taught in medical school, it would be impossible for a physician to impart the necessary information to a patient." Further, the brief pointed out that under the Court of Appeal’s decision, "Physicians would effectively be required to tell their patients ‘I believe in my diagnosis but if my diagnosis is wrong, here are all the other things you should consider.’ No other area of human interaction embraces the proposition that a professional must give a layperson the choice of usurping their professional judgment." The brief goes on to state, "Setting aside the unnerving impact that would necessarily have on patients, there is no framework for a physician to impart to a patient how to second guess their decision."

While WHA, the Society, and WACEP disagreed with Justice Prosser’s conclusion to affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals, they did appreciate that he shares their concern that, "[T]he law of informed consent is being expanded beyond its original scope and purpose, with profound consequences on the practice of medicine." And further, that the expansion comes "potentially at great cost to the health care system."

WHA President Steve Brenton said the fact that physicians could be forced to practice an even greater degree of defensive medicine in Wisconsin will certainly increase health care costs, but it could also have a detrimental impact on what has already been identified by the Association as a looming shortage of physicians.

"We currently have an enviable environment for the practice of medicine. The Supreme Court decision leads us down a path where physicians could begin to leave the state, or choose other locations outside of Wisconsin, because of the perception, or reality, that their extensive years of training will be usurped in the clinical setting," Brenton said. "And an even greater concern is for the well-being of our patients because the decision adds a burden of sorting through variables that are beyond their ability to comprehend."

Further, Brenton added, "This decision takes us in a direction that runs counter to WHA’s efforts to reform health care through collaborative efforts that improve performance, increase efficiency and ensure access to care in our communities."

WHA, WACEP and the Society will pursue legislation in the next session to address this important issue.

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WHA’s Legal Advocacy, Quality Improvement, Economic Development Efforts in High Gear
Staff presents new initiatives to WHA Board that align with Association 2012 goals

Economic development is not always at the forefront of WHA’s agenda, but at the April 18 WHA Board meeting in Madison, it assumed a "post position" in the race to grow Wisconsin’s non-health care economy.

WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding outlined a statewide plan for the Board that leverages efforts by WHA and its member hospitals that have gained Wisconsin a national reputation for providing top quality, high value health care in Wisconsin.

"We want to inject Wisconsin health care quality and value into the economic development equation," Borgerding said. "We can make value relevant to audiences beyond ourselves, especially business leaders and policy makers."

He emphasized his point by listing the strengths of Wisconsin’s health care system:

"The bottom line is Wisconsin is a high value state," Borgerding said. "Health care is an asset in Wisconsin; an integral part of our economic infrastructure. We know that industry considers a number of factors when locating to a community—access to utilities, telecommunications, housing, and a trained workforce. What has been missing in that mix is our high quality, high value health care."

WHA plans to position health care as a drawing card for local economic development. Borgerding said a variety of mediums will be used to communicate a message that connects health care quality, outcomes and value to job creation.

"Health care is a component of labor costs, and labor costs affect job growth and expansion," according to Borgerding. "Hospital efforts to moderate costs, improve outcomes, and achieve a healthier workforce mean greater value for employers’ health care dollars."

WHA Legal Advocacy Efforts Increase with Flurry of Health Care-Related Cases

WHA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Laura Leitch presented a rather sobering picture of Wisconsin’s health care legal landscape in reviewing five cases. Leitch started by explaining the Jandre v. Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund Supreme Court decision (see www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=81164) outlined in this issue of The Valued Voice. Here the Court failed to clarify the scope of a physician’s duty to inform patients about treatment and diagnostic options the physician does not recommend. This leaves physicians in the difficult position of not knowing how much information a physician should provide to a patient about tests for diagnoses ruled out by the physician, resulting in defensive medicine and the related increased costs. The provider community is concerned that this case, if left unaddressed, will harm Wisconsin’s leading efforts to move toward more efficient outcome-focused care.

In a second Wisconsin Supreme Court case, Weborg v. Jenny, WHA and the Wisconsin Medical Society weighed in with a joint amicus brief on a medical malpractice case involving the instructions that a judge should give jurors regarding collateral source payments admitted during a trial.

A third Supreme Court case that WHA is closely following is Gister v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. and Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Marshfield. In this case, the plaintiff’s attorney argued that the hospital cannot file a lien and can bill only the Medicaid program rather than pursue payment of reasonable charges from the proceeds of the patient’s injury settlement or award.

Leitch said WHA is closely watching a case that is in the Court of Appeals, Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc v. City of Beaver Dam. WHA, the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative and the Wisconsin Association of Homes and Services for the Aging filed a joint amicus brief supporting a property tax exemption for a community-based residential facility (CBRF). The Court of Appeals will decide whether the statute requires a facility licensed, certified or registered under Chapter 50, Wis. Stats., to be not only owned by a nonprofit entity but also "benevolent" in order to be exempt from property taxes."

In Darnell & Star Davis v. Racine ER Physicians, the question at hand was whether providers are limited to seeking reimbursement at the Medicaid rate when pursuing payment from a third party carrier for services provided to an injured Medicaid recipient in a personal injury case. The Racine County Circuit Court agreed with the providers that Racine ER Physicians could pursue their reasonable fees from the third-party liability carrier.

WHA Partners for Patients Helps Hospitals Navigate Quality Improvement Landscape

The WHA staff working on the Partner’s for Patients initiative are wasting no time in helping Wisconsin hospitals plan their 2012-2013 quality improvement work. A big part of the work so far, according to Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer, is helping hospitals see the connections among all the quality improvement and measurement initiatives so they can make sense of it in their facility. Wisconsin has 98 percent of its hospitals working with a hospital engagement network, one of the highest participation rates in the country.

The goal of the national CMS Partnership for Patients is to reduce readmissions by 20 percent and reduce hospital-acquired harm by 40 percent. Within those two broad goals are specific initiatives, including:

1. Reducing Readmissions 

2. OB Events 

3. Pressure Ulcers 

4. Catheter acquired Urinary Tract Infections 

5. Catheter acquired Blood Stream Infections

6. Adverse Drug Events

7. Falls

8. Surgical Infections

9. Venous Thromboembolism

10. Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

"We’re talking to the staff in our hospital quality departments and working out hospital-specific, custom approaches on improvement projects," Court said. "The idea is not to have hospitals work on all ten initiatives that are in the Partner’s for Patients project, but to start with those that work best in their setting."

Court said WHA has added three new staff members to work on the Partner’s for Patients initiative. Two improvement advisors, Tom Kaster and Travis Dollak, along with project managers Jill Hanson and Stephanie Sobczak, have been personally working to establish hospital-specific plans, at the same time hospitals are forming teams. Concurrently, WHA is finalizing training opportunities for participating hospitals, which will begin June 5. The formal launch events are set for May 10 in Madison and May 15 in Eau Claire.

GME Task Force Continues In-Depth Study of Wisconsin Physician Training

WHA continues to lead a statewide effort dedicated to ensuring that Wisconsin has an adequate supply of physicians to meet the present and future demand. George Quinn, WHA senior policy advisor, and Chuck Shabino, WHA senior medical advisor, told Board members that the WHA Graduate Medical Education (GME) Task Force has been gathering information that will be used to develop a concept paper that will be useful in facilitating a statewide dialogue on the issue.

A recent WHA survey of hospital and health system CEOs on the subject of GME found two-thirds of the respondents either were or are now involved with medical student training or residencies. For those responding in the negative, the reason most often given was a lack of physician support.

"Physician support is critical to establishing and sustaining graduate medical education in the local community," Shabino said.

The benefits of having GME in their community that CEOS most often cited were growing the physician workforce and enhancing their relationships with their current medical staff.

WHA also surveyed residency program directors and found that only half of the respondents believe that their program receives the appropriate level of interest from Wisconsin’s medical school graduates.

The key issues that must be addressed are the perceived barriers to expanding the programs which include financial support, clinical volumes, and lack of support from faculty at the medical schools.

Quinn summarized the April 2 GME meeting for the Board. At that meeting, (see www.wha.org/pubArchive/valued_voice/vv4-6-12.htm#1) the following topics were discussed:

Shabino said a meeting will be held this summer to bring residency program directors together with the deans of Wisconsin’s two medical schools to improve the quality of communication between the two groups with a goal of increasing the percent of Wisconsin medical school graduates that stay in the state to complete their graduate education.

WHA HIT Task Force Report on Meaningful Use

WHA Chair Sandy Anderson, president, St. Clare Hospital, Baraboo presented on the work of the WHA HIT Task Force, which she also chairs. The Task Force met April 5 and focused on the newly-released Stage 2 "meaningful use" proposed rules. Anderson reported that the Task Force expressed concerns about the feasibility of meeting some of the new requirements within the timelines provided as well as whether proposed requirements would in fact promote greater efficiency and improved quality through better use of EHR technologies.

The Task Force was particularly concerned about new proposed requirements that would not be fully controlled by hospitals; for example, under the proposed rules, hospitals would fail Stage 2 meaningful use if fewer than 10 percent of a hospital’s patients accessed a web-based patient portal to view their health information. Anderson also conveyed the Task Force’s frustration regarding quality measure requirements under the meaningful use rules. While the Task Force was supportive of automating the generation of quality measures through an EHR, the quality measures that CMS is proposing under the meaningful use rules are not always compatible with EHR functionality and given those compatibility problems are not particularly useful for internal quality improvement purposes.

Anderson reported that the HIT Task Force would be meeting again on April 26 to discuss a draft WHA comment letter on the proposed rule as well as model comment letters for Wisconsin hospitals. She also encouraged participation in a WHA survey on meaningful use that will be used to help inform WHA’s comment letter. Comment letters on the rules to HHS are due May 7. For more information, see www.wha.org/pubArchive/valued_voice/vv4-13-12.htm#4.

President’s Report

WHA President Steve Brenton welcomed newly-appointed Southeastern Region Board Alternate Catherine Jacobson, president of Froedtert Health, who was attending her first WHA Board meeting. He also announced that Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer, would be joining WHA as a full-time staff member July 1. For the past year and a half she has served as the chief quality officer (CQO) for WHA and the WI Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ). The magnitude of responsibilities and workload clearly exceeds the abilities of any one person (even Kelly). That dynamic has become even more evident with the monumental work ahead of us related to implementation of the Partners for Patients initiative (107 hospitals, five new staff members and huge expectations from our contractors and members).

Brenton outlined the difficult environment that is facing Congress in the upcoming months, including the Medicare physician payment "fix" expiring at the end of the year, combined with the upcoming sequester, including the two percent across-the-board cuts combined with other cuts slated to take effect that will further reduce hospital payments. He emphasized the importance of educating and working with the Wisconsin Congressional delegation over the next few months so they understand the magnitude of cuts and the damage that will do to community hospitals. About 20 people from Wisconsin will be attending the AHA Annual Meeting in May in DC, which will include meetings with members of Congress.

The Board approved the membership of the 2012 Nominating Committee, which will be chaired by Nick Turkal, president/CEO, Aurora Health Care. Members of the Committee include:

Council, Committee and Task Force Reports

Audit and Investment Committee Report:
Greg Britton, chair of the WHA Audit and Investment Committee, presented the 2011 audit report to the WHA Board for approval. He stated that WHA received a clean unqualified opinion and that the auditor was complimentary of the job WHA does preparing for the audit. The WHA Board approved the 2011 WHA Audit Report.

Council on Rural Health: Ed Harding, chair, said plans are set for the 2012 Rural Conference that will be held June 27-29 at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. Harding said the speakers are excellent, and he encouraged members to register for what he termed "one of WHA’s best rural conferences ever."

Council on Finance & Payment: WHA’s Brian Potter reviewed the meeting for the Board. See story in this issue of The Valued Voice.

Council on Public Policy: WHA’s Eric Borgerding presented the report. Jon Morgan and Grant Cummings from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reviewed the state budget and the status of the Medicaid program. Also presenting were Professor Donald Downs and Ryan Owens from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Department. Downs and Owens provided their perspective into the U.S. Supreme Court consideration of PPACA. Read more at www.wha.org/pubArchive/valued_voice/vv3-30-12.htm#1.

Borgerding also reviewed the results of an issues prioritization survey completed by council members.

Council on Workforce Development: Chair Nicole Clapp said the Council heard updates on the legislative session and the WHA Partner’s for Patients initiative. Sen. Luther Olson was the guest speaker, and he discussed the Family and Medical Leave Act. Read more at www.wha.org/pubArchive/valued_voice/vv4-6-12.htm#7.

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2012 Wisconsin Rural Health Conference
Improving Your Rural Community, One Patient at a Time

Join your colleagues at The Osthoff Resort on the shores of Elkhart Lake for this year’s Wisconsin Rural Health Conference, scheduled June 27-29. This annual event is the forum for examining the issues that impact small and rural hospitals most, networking and collaborating with colleagues, and bonding with your team of senior staff and trustees.

For the first time at the Rural Health Conference, nationally-known health care governance and leadership expert Jamie Orlikoff will offer the opening keynote session. Orlikoff will examine the challenges and opportunities confronting rural health care providers and emphasize practical strategies to keep executive leaders and trustees ahead of the demanding curve of change.

Orlikoff will also offer a follow-up breakout session focused on the changing role of the board, characteristics of "best practice" boards and practical techniques for making improvements to the board as part of the conference’s popular governance education track. The governance track will also offer trustees and their CEOs sessions focused on ways to make the most of your organization’s affiliation, and governance strategies to best position your hospital for future success in a world of accountable care organizations. In addition, the conference will offer a mix of other timely and important breakout session options.

The annual Wisconsin Rural Health Conference is a great way for hospital executives, leadership staff and trustees to take advantage of quality education, close to home, at a fraction of the travel and registration costs of out-of-state events. Make sure to register by June 15, and make your hotel reservations as soon as possible but before the deadline date of June 6.

The conference brochure is included in this week’s packet. Full information and online registration are available at http://events.SignUp4.com/12Rural.

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Quality Initiatives, Legal Advocacy, ICD-10 Headline WHA Finance Council Agenda

Quality improvement and health care finance are becoming more intertwined every day, which is why Stephanie Sobczak, WHA’s quality improvement manager, presented information to the Council about WHA’s and member hospitals’ participation in the Partners for Patients initiative. Under a contract from CMS through AHA, WHA will be assisting with the development and coordination of collaborative efforts on targeted quality improvement.

"Quality measures are playing a bigger part in hospital reimbursement through pay-for-performance initiatives and other payment reforms. It is important for organizations to view quality improvement activities as not only the right thing to do from a care and efficiency perspective, but also as a significant driver of reimbursement, now and into the future," according to Sobczak.

Laura Leitch, WHA general counsel, reviewed WHA activities in state legal advocacy regarding cases on informed consent, collateral source payments, property tax exemptions, and enforcement of a hospital lien on a third party settlement. She described that WHA legal advocacy can take many forms but often times results in the filing of an amicus brief either alone or in collaboration with other interested groups.

"Legal advocacy is a major area of focus for WHA as there are many cases that, although under the radar for many, can have a significant effect on hospital operations and reimbursement," said Leitch.

Debbie Rickelman, senior director of the WHA Information Center, updated the Council on the latest news regarding ICD-10 implementation. Recently, HHS announced a one year delay to October 2014. The delay was requested by several provider groups and many provider readiness surveys across the country showed that a significant percentage would not be ready due to other demands on resources including meaningful use preparations. WHA and the WICD-10 workgroup continue to meet and make available resources on the WICD-10 website to help providers as they continue their preparations for ICD-10.

"While many providers in Wisconsin have been working hard on the implementation and would have been ready, the delay will allow more time for robust testing and a smoother, more coordinated transition," according to Rickelman.

In other Council business, Jenny Boese, vice president of external relations and member advocacy, provided an update on federal issues that are in play and the importance for council members to continue to be active in advocacy and letting their legislators know their concerns. She discussed the tools that the WHA HEAT program provides, which makes it easy, through the grassroots action center, to be heard.

Finally, Brian Potter, WHA senior vice president, and Joanne Alig, WHA vice president, payment policy and reform, reviewed several Medicaid issues that WHA is working on with DHS including reform implementation, a new pay-for-performance program for the Medicaid FFS population, and the development of an enhanced ambulatory patient groupings (EAPG) outpatient payment methodology that is tentatively scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2013.

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Wisconsin Hospital Labs at "Front Line" of Contaminated Tuna Investigation

On April 13 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public to avoid consuming raw tuna due to possible contamination. An investigation by multiple state health departments, public health laboratories including the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA has determined that numerous Salmonella Bareilly infections in the U.S. were the result of consuming uncooked tuna in the form of sushi, sashimi and ceviche, among others.

This outbreak again demonstrated the effectiveness of the food borne disease surveillance system in place in Wisconsin and across the U.S. This system begins at the hospital and clinical laboratories and ultimately ends when the food provider/producer either volunteers or is mandated to recall the implicated product.

Hospital and clinical laboratory submission of Salmonella isolates to public health laboratories was instrumental in detecting the contaminated tuna product in this outbreak. Wisconsin PFGE (aka bacteria "DNA fingerprint") pattern data from isolates submitted promptly to the WSLH by hospital and clinical laboratories, along with epidemiological investigations by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (WDPH), Milwaukee City Health Department and multiple local health departments were key to investigators being able to definitively implicate the tuna.

As of April 17, Wisconsin (14 cases) trails only New York state (24 cases) with the number of confirmed cases of S. Bareilly linked to consumption of uncooked contaminated tuna.

"WSLH and WDPH staff would like to thank the staffs of hospital and clinical laboratories in Wisconsin for your continued efforts to both promptly submit clinical specimens and isolates to the WSLH for surveillance of food borne and other diseases of public health concern and report disease cases to your local health officials," according to Tim Monson, advanced microbiologist, Communicable Disease Division, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. "Clinical laboratories are on the ‘front line’ in the battle against many diseases, and your continued efforts are integral in maintaining an effective public health system."

To learn more about this ongoing outbreak investigation, visit the CDC outbreak website at www.cdc.gov/salmonella/outbreaks.html.

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Severe Weather Awareness Week April 16-20, 2012
NOAA Weather Radio can serve key role in hospitals’ disaster preparedness

On April 14, the National Weather Service confirmed 59 tornadoes that ripped across the Plains and Midwest that killed six people and injured many others. Officials credited early warning systems in the region with preventing more fatalities.

Facilities can stay informed by listening to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for the latest watches and warnings. Know the difference between WATCH and WARNING. When conditions are favorable for severe weather, a WATCH is issued. When severe weather is imminent or occurring, a WARNING is issued. Weather Service personnel use information from Doppler radar, storm spotters, state and local officials, satellites and other sources to issue warnings. These Watches and Warnings are broadcast over local NOAA Weather Radio stations and also are retransmitted by many local radio and television stations.

With this information, local emergency management and public safety officials can activate local warning systems to alert communities of an impending weather threat.

A NOAA Weather Radio is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week continuous broadcast of weather information. Severe weather information is available the moment it is issued. Certain weather radio models have an alert feature that will be activated to alarm you of any watch or warning issued for your area.

NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from a nearby National Weather Service Office. Public safety experts agree that the receivers are especially valuable in places that are entrusted with public safety, including health care facilities/agencies.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) is currently conducting a survey to gain valuable insights into where, how often, and for what reasons DQA regulated facilities and agencies seek weather information. The information gathered by the survey will help guide DQA toward working with facilities, Wisconsin Emergency Management and the Division of Public Health in developing more effective planning and response strategies in event of a disaster.

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Wisconsin Hospitals Community Benefits: Adequate and Appropriate Nutrition

Nutrition counseling is an important aspect of the service that hospitals provide within their communities. Whether it is offering classes that focus on weight loss or promoting better health, or nutrition education for people who are diabetic, Wisconsin hospitals offer hundreds of free classes that stress the importance of a nutritional, well-balanced diet on overall health. Hospital employees also help deliver Meals on Wheels and they organize and participate in food drives to benefit local food pantries.

Family Care Center promotes healthy lifestyles for kids

Thanks to partnerships with local schools, the Wheaton Franciscan – St. Joseph Family Care Center is helping kids eat healthier and stay active.

At Clara Barton Elementary School, third graders merge fun and facts through the annual Salsa Garden project which has them plant seedlings on the Family Care Center (FCC) grounds for all the ingredients in salsa. The effort is extensive – tomatoes are caged, peppers are pinched back, and the kids make regular visits to check on the progress of their sprouts. At each visit, they meet with FCC staff members who talk about how plants–and people–grow. While learning that plants get nutrients from the soil, kids find out the best way to get good nutrition from the foods they eat. Label reading and serving size information is mixed in with discussions about health care careers and how to make a finger cast. Come harvest time, FCC staff members gather the feast and take it to the school where the students, now fourth graders, make salsa.

Through the Family Care Center’s Fitness and Nutrition (FAN) Club program, Clara Barton teachers and students learn about positive body images, the importance of exercising, healthy food options, and proper portion size. Funded by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, the FAN Club has a regular curriculum with handouts and tip sheets for parents and guardians. A medical resident teaches a weekly physical education class, and a favorite activity is the "new taste" experience, where the kids sample items like pomegranate or whole grain crackers.

In a less formal effort, Jenny Ovide, a RN at the Family Care Center, teaches self-esteem classes to high school students in Milwaukee-area group homes and at Vincent High School. During the summer, the program partners with the Milwaukee Tennis and Education Foundation. At this age, topics of self-worth, healthy body image and positive relationships loom larger in importance. Jenny provides information in the larger context of how self-image contributes to school, family and friends, and future choices. The program is underwritten entirely by Wheaton, but the effort is well worth it in helping today’s young adults become tomorrow’s leaders.

"True community medicine is when we learn right along with the kids about the importance of being healthy for a lifetime and share unforgettable experiences," said Jenny.

Wheaton Franciscan – St. Joseph, Milwaukee

Gundersen Lutheran establishes daily Salvation Army food donation program

With a growing number of people seeking help from the Salvation Army in La Crosse, Gundersen Lutheran began a daily food donation program to help the Salvation Army meet this community need.

As a health care organization that runs 24/7, Gundersen Lutheran will always have a certain amount of food that can no longer be served in the cafeteria or to patients. It is still safe to eat—it just can’t be served because of food service regulations. In the past, this food would get thrown away. Recognizing a need that exists in La Crosse, Gundersen Lutheran contacted the Salvation Army about starting a food donation program.

Rather than throwing the food away, dietary staff now packages it up, labels it and sets it aside in the cooler or freezer. Each day, the Salvation Army stops by to pick up the food and takes it back to serve in their soup kitchen, providing those who are hungry with a satisfying meal.

The weekly food donation program between Gundersen Lutheran and the Salvation Army has been up and running since the end of November. Gundersen Lutheran has donated just over 1,000 meals a month.

Gundersen Lutheran Health System, La Crosse

Valuing local food

Lakeview Medical Center (LMC) has worked to find more ways to add value to the community than simply being a hospital available in a time of need.

Nutritional Services staff at LMC is efficient in buying baking and cooking products from local suppliers, helping boost the local economy while supporting its friends and neighbors just down the road. Nutritional Services staff have made it their mission to purchase as much from local merchants as possible.

Their efforts reflect a growing national trend. Both individuals and institutions are buying local because of the social, economic and environmental benefits. Some of those include greater food flavor and nutritional content. For example, LMC buys all of its ground beef locally from Dragsmith Farms. The meat is a lean, flavorful part of many tasty hospital meals.

Additionally, sourcing from local suppliers decreases long-distance transportation of materials, which is better for the environment and reduces delivery times, fuel and costs. At LMC, all of the bread used in the café is purchased locally and delivered to the hospital six days a week. LMC staff orders a list of baked items and quantities needed, and the goods are made to exact specifications.

In addition to purchasing from local businesses, LMC has found ways to give back to organizations like St. Vincent de Paul. Leftover meals are frozen and delivered to Paul’s Pantry, which then re-heats the meals and serves them to their patrons. Over 300 prepared meals are served to St. Vincent de Paul each month, thanks to LMC’s donations.

Increasing efficiency, supporting local businesses and contributing to the community are all investments in our future.

Lakeview Medical Center, Rice Lake

Nutrition Services prepares meals for tornado victims

As businesses and residents of the south side of La Crosse recovered from the community’s first tornado touchdown in nearly 50 years, hot meals were a welcome sight. On May 24 and 25, 2011, the Nutrition Services and Dietetics Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse provided 150 hot meals that were distributed to victims by the Scenic Bluffs Chapter of the American Red Cross.

"Our arrangement with the Red Cross was to provide meals during this initial recovery period," says Walter Schillinger, director of Nutrition Services and Dietetics. "Our meal prep staff was able to respond swiftly to this important need on short notice."

This is the second local disaster recovery effort where Nutrition Services collaborated with the local Red Cross. In the spring of 2010 hot meals were prepared when floodwaters devastated parts of rural Vernon County.

For the recovery event this week the meals were shared between a shelter established for those residents displaced from their homes and a mobile meal distribution point managed by the Red Cross. The meals included chicken or roast beef, whipped potatoes or rice, an assortment of vegetables, and cookies. Nutrition Services provided containers for meal distribution with pickup and delivery managed by the Red Cross.

Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse

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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