Monthly Archives: May 2018

Presenting the Pete and Jelaine Horton Skilled Nursing and Hospice Care Center at Door County Medical Center

Horton Skilled Nursing and Hospice Center

Pete and Jelaine Horton

“They let us bring in beer and watch the Packer game. We immediately felt at home.” That experience on Christmas Eve a few years back was the “a-ha” moment for Pete Horton and his wife Jelaine Horton. Pete’s mother was in her early 90s and living in hospice in Indiana; the family knew her life was nearing its end. Those final moments of comfort, remarkable in their similarity to everyday life, meant the world to the Horton family. “End of life means living until the end,” says Jelaine, “we felt so thankful. That’s a major reason we decided to contribute to the new Skilled Nursing Facility at Door County Medical Center.”

In June, Door County Medical Center (DCMC) will break ground on their new Skilled Nursing and Hospice Care Center. The Pete and Jelaine Horton Center will be one of only three federally-certified and Wisconsin-Licensed Skilled Nursing Facilities in all of Door County.

Growing Older

The 2015 U.S. Census Bureau list the average number of people over age 65 in the state of Wisconsin at 14.8%. In Door County, that figure is almost double at 25.4%. People ages 65-75 grew by 16% over the past 5 years and those over age 85 during the same period grew by 10%.

As our population ages, so too, does infrastructure. The current Skilled Nursing Facility at DCMC is the last of the patient service areas located in the 1963 building to be updated. The resident restrooms do not accommodate wheelchairs, natural light is scarce, the plumbing is outdated, and there is only one communal room for activities such as meals, therapy and treatment. If residents want to access green space, they need to take elevators down a floor.

“We have a 5-star Skilled Nursing Facility in place because of our amazing staff and leadership, but we can only do so much within the space we currently have,” says Communication and Marketing Coordinator, Erin Shortall.

“Our mission is to improve the health of all in our community, but especially for the poor and the most vulnerable. It is our mission, our duty, to take care of our senior population as they approach the end of their life. Building a new state of the art Skilled Nursing and Hospice/End of Life Facility is the right thing to do, despite the financial cost,” says Mike Herlache, Executive Director of Door County Medical Center Foundation.

Connecting Community

Horton Skilled Nursing and Hospice Addition

The 25,000 square foot Pete and Jelaine Horton Center will be located in the green space on the corner of S.16th Place and Rhode Island Street. Resident centered care is at the heart of the design and features a “two-neighborhood” approach. Each “neighborhood” offers 15 private skilled nursing resident rooms with one room in each “neighborhood” reserved for End-of-Life/Hospice care. Additional space is provided for family and friends of those receiving end-of-life care.

“This is something entirely new to our SNF, to offer an intimate and connected space for visiting loved ones,” says DCMC President and CEO Gerald Worrick, “it was important for us to shed the institutional feel so common in traditional skilled nursing facilities. This is about enjoying life.”

The list of amenities reads more like a brochure for a boutique hotel. The two neighborhoods collectively share the kitchen, dining room and spa area. The communal space for both also includes an activity room, chapel, salon and a healing garden. Each neighborhood does have its own living room, den and end-of-life/family room.

“The healing garden is an open extension of the building and will be a prominent feature of the facility. The recent addition of city sidewalks around the perimeter of the hospital, combined with the community garden just a block down the road, brings us all a little closer,” says Herlache, “Even more, this will be the only facility of its kind in our community that is attached to a hospital. This is advantageous to residents as almost all of their health care needs are right down the hall including clinic, rehabilitation and emergency services.”

Horton Skilled Nursing and Hospice Center   Horton Skilled Nursing and Hospice Center

Planting Seeds

In 1999, the Hortons moved to Sturgeon Bay after Pete was involved in a silo gas accident on their Indiana farm. Door County was a place for him to heal, and an opportunity for the couple to commit to an area they both loved.

“Door County always felt like home,” said Pete. His first visits to the peninsula began with his father, whose company built our familiar blue water towers. Pete’s father passed on the legacy of giving to his son, instilling first and foremost a sense of humility. “We’re just lucky enough that we can do it,” says Pete, “We all do what we can with what we have.”

Internal support for the new skilled nursing facility has been immediate and continues to grow. Of the 650 DCMC employees, 25% have collectively given $70,000. 100% of the Door County Medical Center Board of Directors, Senior Leadership and Department Leadership have contributed.

“No one likes to think about what will happen to our grandparents and parents someday down the road, as their independent living skills change, but it will bring peace of mind to know that DCMC will have this facility to take care of these loved ones – that’s why I contributed,” says Erin Shortall.

“It never ceases to amaze me how committed the community is to helping ensure that quality health care continues to be provided at DCMC,” adds Herlache, “Growing older is something we all get to do, if we’re lucky. I personally feel that we owe it to our senior population, to ourselves, to build a state of the art facility for generations to come. It’s up to us to step up to the plate once again and get this built.”
“Because this is not a profit center for the hospital, we are relying on philanthropy to make this project a reality. The Horton’s seed contribution of $2 million laid the groundwork. Now, as a community, we must raise $5 million of the $9.5 million in construction costs,” says Herlache.

To make a gift of any size, visit or contact Door County Medical Center Foundation.

Introducing The Heartburn & Reflux Center at DCMC

Door County Medical Center is one of the top critical access hospitals in the nation. More than a hospital, Door County Medical Center is an integrated health system providing the residents of Door and Kewaunee counties with state of the art technology and procedures, and top physicians.

DCMC Heartburn and Reflux CenterThere are 4 big ways Door County Medical Center brings state of the art technology to our community. #2 is our Heartburn and Reflux Center.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), is a common disease impacting 40% of Americans that can lead to serious health consequences if it is not detected early. Heartburn (acid reflux) occurs when stomach contents backup, or reflux, into the esophagus. Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation that may radiate to the neck, throat, or along your jawline. If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you may have GERD.

“Things like a chronic sore throat, persistent cough or hoarse voice are things that can occur from irritation of the gastric refluxate coming into the upper airway. One important alarm symptom is dysphasia which is trouble swallowing or food getting stuck, especially if it’s down in the lower chest. That has to be evaluated fairly quickly,” says Dr. Shaun J. Melarvie, M.D., F.A.C.S., “A dentist will sometimes find erosions of the enamel when they’re looking at teeth and will refer their patient back to the primary care provider for evaluation of reflux disease. I see that fairly commonly in my practice here at Door County Medical Center.”

Additional GERD Symptoms:

  • Asthma
  • Chest Pain
  • Excessive Salivation
  • Regurgitation
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Sensitive to some foods & liquids

Patients suffering from acid reflux can now benefit from state of the art diagnosis using the Bravo™ reflux testing system, which is an advanced technology that can help identify the cause of your symptoms. Bravo™ monitors acid content in your esophagus while you continue your regular daily activities and diet. The testing process is comfortable, and the results can help your doctor better understand your symptoms and make confident decisions about your treatment plan.

If your chronic acid reflux cannot be managed by medication or lifestyle changes, Door County Medical Center offers advanced treatment of heartburn with incisionless same-day surgery (TIF) and LINX, a small implant that can support acid suppression therapy.

“One of the newer technologies is called transoral incisionless fundoplication, also known as TIF. It’s a procedure that allows us to do a recreation of the valve between the stomach and the esophagus to help people that are suffering from acid reflux and can’t control their symptoms adequately with medications. What is so nice about the procedure is we can do this operation in less than an hour and with no incisions whatsoever. Many patients come off of their acid reflux medications altogether and stay off of them long term,” explains Kurtis D. Scheer, M.D., F.A.C.S.

The other advanced procedure available at DCMC’s Heartburn and Reflux Center is the LINX® Reflux Management System. It is a “bracelet” made of magnetic titanium beads implanted at the base of the esophagus to reinforce the weakened muscle that allows acid to splash back up. The device is implanted using a standard minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. LINX is indicated for those patients diagnosed with GERD as defined by abnormal pH testing, and who are seeking an alternative to continuous acid suppression therapy.

“Thus far there have been good patient satisfaction scores with the results obtained for both the LINX® and TIF procedures. It is always important to consult with your doctor to find out which procedure is appropriate for you,” says Dr. Melarvie.

Call to make an appointment for a consultation with one of our skilled surgeons today. (920) 746-1060

Telestroke Robot Transforms Care for Rural Patients

Door County Medical Center is one of the top critical access hospitals in Wisconsin. More than a hospital, Door County Medical Center is an integrated health system providing Door and Kewaunee counties with state of the art technology and procedures, and top physicians.

High Tech Reason #3: Telestroke RobotThere are 4 big ways Door County Medical Center brings state of the art technology to our community. #3 is our Telestroke Robot. Yes, a Telestroke Robot.

Telestroke is telemedicine technology that connects stroke patients and their on-site emergency department physicians with board-certified neurologists, allowing for quicker diagnosis and treatment of stroke.Through live audio and video telecommunication, Telestroke allows a neurologist to be at a patient’s bedside within minutes of the patient arriving at the emergency department.

“When someone is having a stroke, every minute that passes before they receive appropriate medical care can impact their quality of life,” says Sandy Vandertie, Director of Emergency Services at DCMC. “This advanced technology connects the patient with a neurologist within minutes, improving outcomes and reducing the long-term impact of a stroke.”

Nearly 800,000 people have strokes in the U.S. each year, and most of those patients are experiencing stroke for the first time. During a stroke, an estimated two million brain cells die each minute meaning that the faster the response time, the better a stroke can be evaluated and treated, reducing or eliminating long-term disability and brain function loss.

Vanderite explains that after a patient arrives with stroke symptoms, the DCMC team begins a 60 minute gold standard process which they refer to as Code Stroke. “We bring a team of people that come together to manage you, including the neurologist via telestroke robot. The highest priority intervention to have done is a brain scan or CT scan. If we currently have someone in the CAT scanner, we prioritize the stroke patient. The goal is for us to have you in the CAT scanner within 25 minutes of arriving at the hospital. Next, a radiologist, coupled with our neurologist, both evaluate your CT scan. Within 45 minutes of your arrival here, a decision is made whether or not to put in an order for brain saving medicine.”

Living in a rural community should never exclude you from having the most advanced medical treatment possible. Our Telestroke technology empowers Door County Medical Center staff to improve patient care by offering state of the art medical services, right here in Door County.

State-of-the-Art Technology, Close to Home – Advanced Detection Methods

Door County Medical Center is one of the top 20 critical access hospitals in Wisconsin. More than a hospital, Door County Medical Center is an integrated health system providing the residents of Door and Kewaunee counties with state of the art technology and procedures, and top physicians.

High Tech Reason #4: Advanced Diagnostic Imaging

There are 4 big ways, Door County Medical Center brings state of the art technology to our community. #4 is our advanced detection methods.

At Door County Medical Center, we provide up close and advanced detection methods rarely offered in rural communities. With 3-D Mammography, MRI and CT scanning, we get the clearest possible internal images. This helps us detect irregularities early on, drastically improving your chances of recovery. Advanced detection is second only to prevention.

3-D Mammography imaging is a type of digital mammography that, instead of taking a flat 2D image of breast tissue, creates a 3D image from a composite formed of image layers. 3D mammography has been shown to detect 41% more invasive breast cancers, on average. As a result, there are fewer cancers missed and less invasive treatments. One common way to describe the process is to compare the 3D image to the pages of a book, allowing doctors to examine breast tissue layer by layer.

“I am incredibly excited that we have this technology,” says DCMC’s Diagnostic Imaging Director, Amanda Feldbruegge, “Because of the greater detail that 3D mammography provides, the early detection rate is far higher. So, we are going to be able to detect cancers much sooner, and at a much smaller size. As a result, doctors will be able to start treatment sooner—we can catch the disease at stage 1 rather than at stage 3 or 4.”

Even though it has been estimated that a woman born in the United States today has a 1 in 8 chance of developing some form of breast cancer during their lifetime, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100% when breast cancer is detected early.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the latest in cutting-edge technology, helping doctors diagnose and care for patients with needs including oncology, injuries and vascular issues. DCMC invested in a more comfortable and inclusive scanner in March 2017.

“Our MRI scanner is larger and more easily tolerated by claustrophobic patients,” says Donald Renfrew, radiologist at DCMC. “In addition, the new machine has improved the quality of the images. These improvements allow more confident diagnosis leading to better patient care.”

Patients agree that the combination of high-tech and personalized care make their experience stand out. “The new machine is less noisy than I had experienced in the past. It was very comfortable and I didn’t feel so confined. The technicians are always very nice, and that makes all the difference,” says patient Caroline Link.

CT Scanning technology uses 640 visual slices to provide the clearest possible images for doctors to diagnose patients by generating images that can be turned into three-dimensional pictures. Door County Medical Center was the third hospital in the United States to adopt the CT scan technology that reduces streaks from implanted metal such as rods and pacemakers. This enables doctors to diagnose patients with a variety of symptoms such as headache, chest pain and abdominal pain.

“This top-of-the-line scanner is both quicker and more comfortable for the patient, and reduces the radiation dose to the patient as well,” says Amanda Feldbruegge.

One of the unique abilities of the scanner is to eliminate the appearance of metal implants, such as artificial joints, on a scan. “It used to be difficult to obtain images from patients with everything from tooth fillings to hip replacements because the metal caused streaks on the images,” explains Feldbruegge. “This new technology allows us to see everything clearly.”

At Door County Medical Center, our patients experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing the best possible early detection technology is available so close to home. “The combination of leading edge technology and compassionate care helps us provide the best possible outcomes for our patients,” says Feldbruegge.

It’s never too early to take a look at your health: schedule an appointment today!

Opportunity | Experience | Independence – Door County Schools’ Career Training Program

The Door County Schools’ Career Training Program (DCSCTP) is a county wide collaborative program between the school districts of Sturgeon Bay, Sevastopol, Gibraltar and Southern Door in partnership with Door County Medical Center. It represents an interagency collaborative effort to serve a traditionally underserved population of students with disabilities and/or those who are at risk, which is approximately 12% of all students in Door County. DCSCTP provides a learning laboratory in the adult world and prepares students for employment after graduation. The program was created in 1999 and has served over 175 participants.

DCSCTP is managed by job coach and educator, Jolene Buhk. Buhk sees this program as the perfect setting for students to gain job skills that will keep them employed and productive after high school. “Our participants learn job seeking and keeping skills, as well as life skills, to help them in their transition from high school to post-secondary education or the work world. They get to have first-hand experience working in various departments on the hospital with the help of the supportive, kind staff at Door County Medical Center. This program gives the students the skills and confidence they need to be successful members of our community as they enter adulthood.”

Classroom Vocational Development

Approximately 25% of student participation in the program is spent in a classroom setting addressing job skills. There is a significant social skill development element to the curriculum as well. Students are not allowed to begin work assignments until they have participated in a comprehensive three-day orientation.

Throughout the semester, typical areas of classroom instruction include getting along with others, handling criticism, accepting orders on the job, interviewing, respect, responsibility, team building, grooming, decision making, organization, and personal finance. This Spring, students focused on honesty, being trustworthy and reputation. As the end of the semester approaches, students are currently working on their portfolio containing a resume, cover letter, and references.

Student Work Experience

Students work directly with DCMC staff who train and supervise them with the support and assistance of Buhk. Students follow a daily task list that is developed for their specific job assignment and abilities. To promote opportunities for skill training and development, students are assigned positions in the departments of:

  • Housekeeping
  • Nutritional Services
  • Central Supply
  • Skilled Nursing Facility
  • Linen Department
  • Physical Rehab
  • Sleep Lab
  • Patient Accounting
  • Student Evaluation

Student progress and evaluation is monitored on a weekly basis. Each day supervisors and students complete an evaluation form. Buhk also provides daily documentation of class participation, observations of students at work and overall performance. The results of weekly evaluation is sent to teachers and parents and quarter and semester grades are provided to the schools. The program also distributes a monthly newsletter, “Career Connection”, to keep families, DCMC staff, school staff and interested community members informed on the specifics of the program. Compensation for the vocational experience is in the form of school credits which is determined by each individual district.

Buhk sees positive change in the teenagers she works with, “Many students come to the program timid and self-conscious, and after participating in daily classroom lesson and working in different job placements, they leave the program confident in themselves and their ability to get a job and be a good employee.”

How to Apply

Students apply to DCSCTP through their school. Guidance Counselors and Special Education Teachers can provide application packet and information on the program. Following an application review and acceptance into the program, student schedules are developed. Students attend the program half-days with transportation provided by the home school district.

The deadline for Fall 2018 applications has passed, but you can contact Jolene Buhk for information regarding Spring 2019. (920) 746-3721