Monthly Archives: October 2016

Kelli Clark: Patient Care is Her Bottom Line

Kelli Clark knows that long after patients’ health problems are resolved, financial challenges can persist. As manager of patient financial services, she and her team support patients’ financial well-being, alleviating stress so patients can focus on their health and healing. “Just as our excellent clinicians care for people’s bodies, minds and spirits, we are here to care for their financial health.”

“We’re so much more than just the billing department,” she says. Clark’s team of financial counselors, claims specialists and customer service representatives help people understand their bills and insurance coverage, as well as setting up payment plans to help those who can’t pay all at once. But the team also helps patients be proactive about their own financial well-being, offering community workshops and one-on-one sessions to enroll in the Health Care Marketplace or BadgerCare.

“10 years ago, health coverage was so much simpler. You paid your deductible, and that was that,” she says. Now, a constantly changing health insurance landscape and the prevalence of high-deductible plans make paying for health care more complex.

Clark sees many local families who are caught in the middle. “These are working people who are doing everything they can, but then a health issue sets them back financially in a big way.” That’s where Community Care, DCMC’s charitable program, makes a difference. Patients in need who provide their financial information are eligible to have a percentage of their health care costs covered by DCMC. “This is a service we perform as an organization because we believe so strongly in caring for all people,” says Clark. “It feels really good to be part of an organization that values people and believes in providing health care for all. That’s our bottom line.”

Hospital finance is a second career for Clark, who also worked in the juvenile criminal system. “That experience gave me a unique perspective on the many struggles people have that often go unnoticed,” she says. Clark’s compassion is shared by her team, from financial counselors who go the extra mile to accommodate patients to customer service representatives who reassure callers who are worried or confused about their medical bills.

She shares the story of an unnamed patient who needed a joint replacement. “It wasn’t a life and death situation,” she says, “but his quality of life just wasn’t there. He was really suffering.” The man lacked insurance, so DCMC’s financial counselors worked with him to find an affordable insurance plan through the Marketplace. Once he was insured, he went forward with the surgery at DCMC’s Bone and Joint Center, and the Community Care program helped with his deductibles. “Now he’s healed and doing very well,” says Clark. “Helping people like him is why I love this job.”

Prevention and Screening are Keys to Breast Health

The staff of The Women’s Center at Door County Medical Center encourage women to take steps to prevent breast cancer, as well as being proactive in early detection. “Breast Cancer will affect one in eight women in their lifetimes,” says Ann Bretl, RN, Nursing Supervisor at the Women’s Center, “and early detection is key to providing the best chances for treatment.”

Pink Ribbon Charity for Womens Health Awareness Tee Shirt.Some factors in breast cancer, such as family history, can’t be changed. But there are lifestyle changes you can make at any age that may lower your risk.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink a day. Moderate, heavy and binge drinking are linked to a greater risk of breast cancer.
  • Quit smoking. Evidence shows a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, especially in younger women.
  • Control your weight. Being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer, especially if it occurs later in life.
  • Keep on moving. Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk.
  • Breast Feed. Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect may be.

Early Detection Saves Lives

Other than lifestyle changes, the most important action a woman can take is to follow the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for early detection, which improves the chances that cancer can be diagnosed and treated successfully at an early stage.

  • See your doctor. Women age 40 and older should talk to their doctor about how often to have a mammogram. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of their regular health exam.
  • Consider BSE’s (Breast Self Exams). Report any breast changes to your health care provider right away.
  • Recognize your risk. Women of any age at high risk based on certain factors should get a mammogram every year. Talk with your doctor about what screening plan is right for you.

Raising Children in Peace Forum Offers Tools to Parents

On Thursday, November 3, Door County Medical Center will present a forum designed for parents, guardians and caregivers entitled “Raising Children in Peace: A Parent’s Toolkit for Today’s Turbulent World.” Dr. DyAnn Buechler, a clinical therapist, educator and writer, will present the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion with local child advocacy leaders.

Tumultuous current events, bullying, and a heightened level of verbal violence in the media and our public spaces can all contribute to a child’s sense of anxiety. In today’s increasingly turbulent world, parents often ask “What can I do to help my child feel secure?” Dr. Buechler’s presentation will address the issue of fear in children’s lives and offer effective, practical tools to help parents create a positive environment, boosting children’s confidence and sense of security. The importance of safe spaces and community resources will also be explored, and attendees will be provided with a list of resources to support their efforts as parents and caregivers.


Four panelists will comment on the topic from their own professional perspectives, including Mark Hill, social worker at Door County Department of Human Services, Barb Johnson-Giese, licensed clinical social worker and Behavioral Health coordinator at Door County Medical Center, Shirley Senarighi, retired principal and educator at Sturgeon Bay Schools, and Patti Vickman, superintendent of Southern Door Schools. An open discussion with the audience will follow.

The forum takes place at Stone Harbor Resort and Conference Center from 6:00-7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be provided. For more information, call 920.493.5979.

Sharon Haines: Back in the Swim

Sharon Haines has been retired from her career as a banking professional for three years, but she keeps up a pace that rivals most working folks. Thanks to two knee replacements, performed by Door County Medical Center (DCMC) surgeon Dr. Dan Tomaszewski, Sharon is setting the bar high for her friends, family and fellow swim class members.

Four or five times a week, Sharon heads to the Door County YMCA in Sturgeon Bay early in the morning, reporting for group exercise classes in the pool. The classes keep her limber and active, and provide a wonderful social group as well. “When I was recovering from surgery, my physical therapist, Bill Herbst, asked me what my goal was,” says Sharon. “I said I want to get back to the pool! I miss my friends.” Bill and Sharon worked hard to bring function and strength back to her joints, and she was in the water again within six weeks.


Before her two surgeries Sharon felt stiff and tired much of the time. Though she is an avid golfer, it got to the point that she couldn’t even bend over to pick her ball out of the cup. Now, she golfs several times a week with friends and with her grandchildren. “Now I can pick their balls up for them,” she says. “The pain is gone and I can move and enjoy life again.”

She credits Dr. Tomaszewski and the staff at the Bone and Joint Center of Door County at DCMC for her outcomes. “The care was incredible – from the pre-operative class and handbook I was given, to the surgery, to my post-surgical care and rehabilitation. I’m grateful to have this outstanding care right here at our local hospital.”

Orthopedic Care Coordinator Veronica Behme guides patients through the entire process, helping them understand what to expect and following up when they are home recovering. “It was great to have Veronica just a phone call away at any time,” says Sharon.

But Sharon also had her own personal coach by her side – her husband, Dick.  As Sharon’s coach, Dick attended pre-operative meetings, appointments and the inpatient group rehab class the day after surgery. “The coaching component is so valuable, because it meant another person had the information I needed and could support me during my surgery and recovery. It was wonderful to have him included in the whole process.”

Sharon is proud to have encouraged several of her swim class friends to have joint replacement surgeries at DCMC as well. “Everyone just thinks so highly of Dr. Dan (Tomaszewski) and Dr. Davis,” she says. Now, you’ll find Sharon walking her dog Zoey, spending time in the kitchen with her grandchildren or out and about Sturgeon Bay with friends. “It just feels so good to be back to an active life,” she says. “Enjoy every single day – that’s the key.”

School Nursing Keeps Kids Healthy and Ready to Learn

School nursing has come a long way since nurses waited in infirmaries with bandages, ice packs and thermometers. Door County Medical Center’s (DCMC) school nursing program provides comprehensive care at three local school districts, Southern Door, Gibraltar and Sturgeon Bay Schools. “Our goal is to promote health and safety, and keep kids learning,” says Jenn Olsen, RN, coordinator of the program.

Olsen coordinates care that includes creating health care plans for students with special health needs, training teachers on emergency medical procedures, and working with support staff like playground monitors, kitchen staff and bus drivers to cover all the bases of kids’ health. “Having emergency protocols for everything from diabetic emergencies to seizures to allergic reactions is a key part of our work,” Olsen says. “Properly trained staff can make the difference between a minor incident and a major health problem for kids with these issues.”

42809964 - female doctor checking blood pressure of girl sitting on bed in hospital

School nursing staff also monitor for immunization compliance, ensuring that a school population is adequately protected from communicable disease. “There’s lots of communication involved – letting parents, teachers and students know when there is a health issue, and how to take steps to protect themselves.” As with all health care, prevention is key:  training staff and students in health procedures like proper handwashing goes a long way in making schools healthy environments.

In addition to Olsen, two Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) work onsite at schools, providing face-to-face care that comforts students and gets them back to class quickly. “We certainly still use a lot of band-aids and ice packs,” says Olsen. “But we also administer medication and work with students who may be transitioning back to school after an injury or illness. We hear a lot of students, staff and parents tell us ‘We’re glad you’re here.’”

Behind the scenes, Olsen help districts develop policies and procedures to comply with federal and state health regulations, as well as promoting employee health through blood pressure checks, weight loss challenges and education. “We are there to care for the students, but staff see us as a resource, too. We’ve created trusting relationships in our schools.”

“We appreciate the expertise of DCMC in providing medical support and school nursing services for our students,” says Sturgeon Bay Schools Superintendent Dan Tjernagel.  “The school nursing program allows our staff to implement best practices from the nursing field, and keeps their focus on what matters most: teaching and learning.”

Door County Medical Center Now Offering Psychotherapy Services

Mental health issues touch the lives of many in our community. But as in other rural areas, those who struggle with mental illness have not always had adequate access to care. To help bridge this gap, Door County Medical Center recently expanded its behavioral health services by offering psychotherapy and psychiatric care.

“As the leaders of health and wellness in our community, we saw a need for more access to psychotherapeutic services, and decided we were the ones to help meet that need,” says Barb Johnson-Giese, LCSW, DCMC’s behavioral health coordinator.  Psychotherapy and psychiatric services serve patients with moderate to severe mental health needs who require longer term care and may benefit from medication in addition to therapy. These programs are open to all community members, and patients can self-refer for the service. Care is provided by a team of licensed therapists, including licensed clinical social workers and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

teenmentalhealthSince 2015, DCMC has offered Behavioral Health Integration services, offered in conjunction with primary care providers at North Shore Medical Clinic. The program serves adults and adolescents needing help with anxiety, depression, risky alcohol or other drug use and tobacco cessation.

A recent Community Health Needs Assessment, conducted by DCMC in collaboration with Door County Public Health and other human service organizations, indicated a continued need for more care. “The data showed mental health care continues to be a strong need in our community – just as it is in the nation as a whole,” says Johnson-Giese. Instances of suicide, bullying and child abuse are all higher in Door County than the state average.

DCMC was recently named a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital in the nation for the fifth year in a row. President and CEO Jerry Worrick credits the collaborative culture of the hospital for the honor. “We’re always looking to the community to learn how we can make life better for people,” he says. “Our emphasis on mental health is just another example of how we are being proactive to keep our community the healthiest it can be.”

To learn more about mental health services at DCMC, call 920.746.0510.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

The cafeteria at Door County Medical Center is known for their delicious soups, made from scratch daily using with homemade vegetable or chicken stock. Chef John Vreeke shares this recipe just in time for cool fall weather. Try it yourself, or stop in for lunch (served 11:30-1:30) or dinner (served 5:30-6:30) for a cup or bowl. 

Vegetable soup, slow-cooked in a crock pot, ready to serve.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

Serves 6-8

  •  4 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup Sliced Zucchini Squash
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp each dried basil, thyme, and oregano
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1.5 Tsp black pepper
  • 1 – 46  oz. can tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat butter or olive oil in stockpot.  Add vegetables, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato juice, honey, water or stock, and tomato paste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.  Add cheese and adjust seasonings to taste.  Enjoy!

Healthy, Active Kids: Habits for a Lifetime

With one in three children in the United States overweight or obese, childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The good news is childhood obesity can be prevented.

Helping kids establish habits for a lifetime of good health starts at home, says pediatrician Amy Fogarty of Door County Medical Center. “That means a combination of healthy eating habits and activity, including 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.”

Here are small steps families can take to help, recommended by DCMC pediatricians Fogarty and John Arnold.

  • Keep healthy foods within reach. Place a bowl of fruit on the counter within easy reach, and put healthy high protein snacks like string cheese and low-fat yogurt at eye level in the fridge. Save high calorie snacks like chips and cookies for special occasions.
  • Play together. Whether it’s washing the car together on a Saturday morning, going for an after-dinner walk, or playing ball in the backyard, physical activity outdoors is a benefit for body and spirit. On cold or rainy days, cleaning the house to fun music or having a dance party can substitute.
  • Reduce screen time. “In general, one hour of screen time is the ideal limit. More than two hours a day isn’t good for kids,” says Fogarty. Keeping a log of screen time, even for a few weeks, can help families understand how much time kids are actually spending in from of TVs, phones and other devices.
  • Ditch the car keys. When possible, encourage children to ride a bike or walk to the YMCA, school, the library or friends’ homes, rather than going by car. Be sure kids understand rules of the road and wear bike helmets.
  • Get cooking. Involve kids in planning and cooking meals. To keep it simple, have each child help with one meal per week. Kids are more likely to try new healthy foods when they help pick them.