Monthly Archives: April 2015

Practicing What He Preaches: Dr. Andrzej Kurek

You have been a primary care provider here at Ministry for six years. What drives you?

I always wanted to be in primary care. It’s the most challenging, rewarding field for helping people. There’s always an unexpected challenge, and I enjoy constantly learning and researching to provide my patients with the best care.

What is your philosophy of care?

I believe a doctor should practice what he preaches. When I give my patients lifestyle and diet advice, I always try it first myself. Then I know it’s safe and what it takes to do it. An example is the caveman diet: low carb, and more protein and greens, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Fewer processed foods and more exercise. It doesn’t cost any money, and it has helped many of my patients.


You have a specialty in sleep medicine. Why is this important?

Sleep is connected to all aspects of health. As a physician, it’s important to look at the whole picture – that includes day and night. It’s an amazing feeling to help patients who didn’t realize that sleep was connected to their problems, and had adapted to living with poor sleep but were suffering. Getting control of their sleep is often life changing for them.

How do you stay healthy?

Our family has a YMCA membership, and I enjoy cardio workouts and follow my diet. With three children, we stay active and take many outings in our local parks. I also like to draw and paint – I participated in art in college and it’s always been a passion of mine.

What drove you to enter the field of medicine?

My mom was a nurse, and that influenced me, I believe. Once I committed to medicine, I was really drawn in. It’s a lot of work, but keeping people from suffering when it’s preventable is the best thing in the world. I enjoy the relationships with families, seeing those patterns and helping people make changes. That’s really rewarding.



Ministry Helps Patients Create Advance Directives

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, and Ministry Door County Medical Center invites the public to learn more about advance care planning from 6-7:30 p.m. at Ministry in Sturgeon Bay. The event is part of Ministry’s free “Living Room” series, and will include conversation with Ministry providers on the importance of having a living will and advanced directive, documents that inform doctors and family members about the type of care a patient would prefer when unable to speak for him or herself.

Couple opening account in bank

The event includes a screening and discussion of the original PBS video, “Being Mortal,” and a light meal will be provided. Please call (920) 493-5979 to reserve a space.

“We all hope to be able to communicate our wishes until the end of our lives,” says Susan Johnson, chaplain at Ministry Door County Medical Center, “but it doesn’t always happen that way.” Johnson urges people to educate themselves on the process of advance care planning. “It’s really a simple process,” she says. “People need to discuss, decide and document their end-of-life choices, including the kinds of care they do and don’t want to have, and designate a healthcare power of attorney to be a patient’s voice for healthcare decisions when they cannot speak for themselves.”

Ministry’s social workers and chaplains are available to help individuals create advance directives. Call (920) 743-5566 to make an appointment for this free service.

Relieving Jaw Pain: DCMC’s Rehab Services

Local patient Kristin Romero had struggled with jaw pain due to Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction for years when she finally sought help. “It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even finish a meal,” she says.

Kristin sought specialty dental care for her TMJ problem, but the pain did not subside. When a friend suggested she see the physical therapists at Door County Medical Center’s Rehab Facility, Kirstin gave it a try. After a few weeks of therapy at Ministry, Kristin could eat, speak and move her jaw normally. “The difference was night and day,” she says. “My pain was totally gone.”


“The TMJ joint is the most heavily used joint in the body,” says Tony Gloudemans, DPT, one of Kristin’s therapists. “If it’s not in sync, people experience painful clicking, popping and even lockjaw.” Tony and his colleague Terri Casagranda, DPT helped Kristin by assessing her problem, and using cranio-sacral techniques and exercises designed to help realign her jaw. “The therapists really took their time,” says Kristin. “You could tell they had looked at my chart ahead of time and had a plan of how to work with me.”

Physical therapy for TMJ is a painless, non-invasive, and low cost approach to a common issue. “Therapy can be a wonderful complement to dental treatment of TMJ syndrome,” says Terri. “Kristin’s dentist was thrilled with our results.”


For Terri and Tony, the best reward for their work is to know their patients can enjoy optimal function of their joints once more. “I told Kristin to go ahead and eat a big burger with everything on it,” smiles Gloudemans. “It’s wonderful that she can enjoy the basic dining experience again.” Many insurance programs allow patients to self-refer for TMJ therapy. For questions or to make an appointment at Rehab Services, call (920) 746-0410.

Taking the Time: Ellen Knipfer, APNP

As a Nurse Practitioner, what is your approach to patient care?

Like my colleagues, I want my patients to be engaged, to make health care decisions for themselves with me as a partner. I enjoy looking at the whole person. I think that nurses in general have a nurturing approach to care. I like taking a great deal of time with my patients and getting to know them.

What is your background as a nurse and how does it inform your practice?

Before I became a nurse practitioner, I worked as an RN in the hospital setting where I saw a great deal of congestive heart failure and other ailments brought on by obesity and smoking. Now I have the chance to work with my patients to help them not only treat but prevent these diseases.

How did you get interested in nursing?

I entered the health care profession at age 48. I had always tried to take care of my health and I raised my four children while working at the YMCA. I knew I wanted to continue to make a difference in people’s health.

What are some of the greatest challenges to health care?

There’s a lot of information out there on the Internet. Much of it is valuable, but there are a lot of blanket statements that need to be put in context for patients. This information has to be individualized.

People especially need more education and information regarding antibiotics. For a whole generation of us, antibiotics, like Xrays, were a kind of a miracle. Now that we know they’re not effective against viruses, we need to help our patients revise their thinking.

What’s your number one piece of health advice you give your patients?

Stay active. This can mean something as simple as a daily walk, which is what I do. Find people you can enjoy being active with. I joined a local “Couch to 5K” group and that was a big motivator for me. And, everything in moderation. I eat healthy as much as I can, and enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. Enjoying life is critical.

Dr. Paul Board: Working Together with Patients

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?

Practicing internal medicine allows me to get to know patients and their families over time. I enjoy providing education and the process of jointly working toward patients’ health goals.

Tell us about your specialties.

As Medical Director of Ministry Door County Memory Clinic, I’m proud that we are leading the health of this community by providing excellent memory care.  We provide comprehensive evaluations and connect patients and their families to other resources in the community. Four years ago, we became part of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute, and added even more expertise to our services. People are very grateful to have this level of care so close to home.

Also, I’m board certified in addiction medicine and am able to provide consultation and treatment for patients with alcohol and drug abuse issues. Witnessing someone change their life and enter recovery is a privilege.


What do you enjoy about Door County?

We moved here in 2008 from Chicago, where I had practiced since 1988. After 24 years of visiting and vacationing. we were ready to make Door County our home. We love being outside and visiting all the parks. Some of my favorite spots are the rocky beach at Peninsula State Park, Cave Point, and Whitefish Dunes.

How do you stay healthy?

I do the same things I recommend to my patients: I eat healthy foods, I stay active physically and I keep my mind active by reading and meditating. The more we use our bodies and our minds, the better functioning they are.