Relieving Pain by Being A Detective: A Conversation with Dr. Sarah Keller

As a rheumatologist, what kinds of conditions do you treat?

I specialize in the treatment of arthritis and undiagnosed pain as well as lupus and fibromyalgia. It’s not always obvious what is going on with patients who suffer from these conditions, so it’s kind of like being a detective.

How do you approach your patients?

I try to be very pragmatic, and go by the evidence. I want to help my patients get control of their symptoms. Helping relieve people’s pain is extremely rewarding. People are grateful for the relief.

Did you always know you wanted to be a doctor?

My mom wanted me to be a brain surgeon, the first female pope, or the first female president. I’m really happy where I ended up.

dr keller

How do you spend your time when you’re not at work?

I love to cook. I’m addicted to Chopped and I enjoy trying my hand at international cuisines like Thai and Vietnamese. A few years ago, I became a pescatarian. Having grown up in Maryland, I especially love shellfish. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables, grains and herbs. My philosophy of cooking is to put a lot of color on the plate.

My husband and I also enjoy hiking, biking, and kayaking with our daughter. We really enjoy the state parks in Door County: we love going up to Peninsula State Park and Whitefish Dunes and we live close to Potawatomi Park.

What’s the biggest health challenge you see, and how do you address it with your patients?

Obesity is the biggest health challenge, especially here in Wisconsin. It leads to conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee, and of course affects overall health. I encourage my patients to be active and exercise – it’s so important for mind and body. Sometimes people say they’re too tired to exercise, but I find it actually gives you more energy. If you force yourself, you’re halfway there. Changing into that clothing and putting your coat on, or taking your dogs out for a walk, like I do, is the best way to start.


Keep Your Heart Healthy, Deliciously

February is American Heart Month, a chance for me to remind you that keeping your heart healthy starts with what you eat. Did you know there are two types of fiber in foods, soluble and insoluble? As a dietitian here at Ministry, I like to remind my patients to do their hearts a favor and increase the amount of soluble fiber they eat…it’s been found to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Here are some surprisingly simple ways to get more soluble fiber in your diet:

  • Sprinkle oat bran or rice bran on cereal
  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast
  • Choose more vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, acorn squash, broccoli, okra and eggplant
  • Use garbanzo beans, black beans or other beans in soups, casseroles and mexican dishes
  • Eat whole grain breads, cereals and pasta
  • Have hummus (bean dip) and veggies for a snack

Here’s one of my favorite soup recipes using heart-healthy barley, courtesy of Quaker Oats:

Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup


      • 1/2 pound Lean Ground Beef
      • 1/2 cup chopped onion
      • 1 clove Garlic, minced
      • 7 cups Water
      • 1/2 cup Medium Quaker® Barley*
      • 1/2 cup sliced celery
      • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
      • 1/2 teaspoon basil
      • 1 bay leaf
      • 1 9-oz bag of frozen vegetables



In 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, brown ground beef. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is tender; drain. Add remaining ingredients except frozen vegetables. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add frozen vegetables; cook about 10 or until vegetables are tender. Add additional water if soup becomes too thick upon standing.

Questions about a heart-healthy diet, or how to include more soluble fiber in your meals and snacks? Ask your Health Care provider for a referral to a Registered Dietitian.

-Judi Sowl, R.D., C.D., Clinical Dietitian


Ministry Plans Clinic Expansion

This April, Ministry Door County Medical Center (MDCMC) will break ground at its Sturgeon Bay facility for a clinic addition. The new clinic space will provide a more accessible and convenient clinic experience, from registration to doctor visits to radiology services.

“In the 20 years since the existing clinic was built, Ministry has grown to meet the expanding health care needs of our community,” says Jerry Worrick, CEO of MDCMC. “The new clinic space will meet increasing demand for our trusted, local primary and orthopedic care, and will also house our podiatry and diagnostic imaging services.” A new waiting and registration area, more conveniently located to the entrance, will also enhance patients’ experience.


Ministry conducted interviews with patients in the community as well as with their own staff to create a clinic design that will result in better flow and increased accessibility for patients. “What we discovered from our research is that while our quality of care was deemed very high, we needed to be better at coming to the patient to provide that care,” says Jodi Hibbard, director of clinic operations at Ministry. “Our new patient registration area will be easily accessible, and will flow directly into the patient care area.”

The clinic will expand east into the facility’s existing parking lot, and the existing footprint of Ministry’s campus will not change. Construction is slated to last about 12 months, with the new clinic opening in spring of 2016.


Door County Cancer Center Installs New Technology to Deliver Ultra-Precise Radiotherapy Treatments

The Door County Cancer Center (DCCC) is installing a new, state-of-the-art Trilogy linear accelerator with advanced imaging technology to offer patients image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT). IGRT is an extremely precise form of radiation treatment that utilizes multiple imaging techniques to target tumors, resulting in faster treatments, greater patient comfort, and the potential for better outcomes.

“This state-of-the-art technology will enable us to treat patients with advanced radiotherapy techniques,” says Dr. Richard Auchter, radiation oncologist with HSHS St. Vincent Hospital who provides care to patients at the DCCC. “It provides us with tremendous versatility and precision for customizing treatments according to the specifics of each patient’s case.

Dr. Richard Auchter, radiation oncologist

Dr. Richard Auchter, radiation oncologist

The new technology performs precise imaging of the tumor and automated patient positioning, and enables clinicians to concentrate radiation doses on the tumor while protecting surrounding healthy tissue.  This means that high doses of radiation can be delivered quickly and with great precision. “The new accelerator also expands our ability to treat more types of cancer right here in Door County, providing cutting-edge care close to home,” adds Dr. Auchter.

Radiation therapy is used today in more than half of all cancer treatments due to its unique clinical advantages.  This new technology gives the providers at Door County Cancer Center the potential to substantially improve treatment outcomes by doing a better job of protecting healthy tissue while delivering more powerful doses to cancerous tumors.

The new linear accelerator is expected to be installed and operational by mid-April.


Experts Bring Passion, Vision to Door County Cancer Center Patients

Dr. David Groteluschen believes that cancer care has two essential elements: bringing innovative medical therapies and technologies to patients and providing social and emotional support to those experiencing the cancer journey. As a cancer expert at Green Bay Oncology, Dr. Groteluschen and his partners bring their expertise to patients at the Door County Cancer Center (DCCC), located at Ministry Door County Medical Center, every week. Groteluschen“Along with providers from St. Vincent, we bring expert cancer care to Door County so residents don’t have to travel when they’re experiencing the life-changing and stressful event of a cancer diagnosis,” he says. Not only that, but the DCCC team also brings the latest in clinical trials and the most advanced radiation technology to local patients.” Cancer care has come so far,” he adds. “And we are proud to be using the same targeted therapies and clinical trials here in Door County that patients would find at top cancer clinics around the country.” Groteluschen says that his local patients are very appreciative that they can receive cutting-edge care close to home. “They say it eliminates some of the stress, and gives them more time with family and friends, which is so important.” The Door County Cancer Center is currently installing a new, state-of-the-art linear accelerator that will target radiation therapy with even greater precision, leading to more effective treatment and fewer side effects. “Recent advances in cancer technology mean that many people living with this difficult disease are able to live longer, and experience a greater quality of life,” he adds. “And quality of life is really what we are after.”


Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment in Full Swing in Door County

The deadline for open enrollment in the Federal Insurance Exchange is February 15. With the many insurance plans available to consumers, Ministry Door County Medical Center is a resource for those who need enrollment assistance. Many Door County residents have already received help in signing up for coverage for the 2015 tax year.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of January 9th more than 169,000 Wisconsinites have enrolled with 90% of those enrollees receiving premium subsidies.   Ministry has five Certified Application Counselors available to assist community members with their insurance options. iStock_000025297344_Medium Ministry also strives to be in-network for all commercial insurance plans available in our community.  The hospital and clinic physicians are in-network for many individual plans regularly sold in our community and on the exchange including Molina, Arise, Prevea 360, and United Healthcare. They are also a tier one, in-network provider for nearly all of the major employers in Door County, including private, non-profit, and government organizations.

With the many choices available to health care consumers, it can be confusing to determine which insurance best serves your needs, and to make sure your insurance will cover your trusted, local health care providers. For questions regarding insurance coverage, please call 920-743-5566 and ask to speak to a Financial Counselor.


Ministry Takes On Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program

Sexual assault is, sadly, a real issue in our community. To meet the needs of victims of sexual assault, Ministry Door County Medical Center (MDCMC) is offering Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) services providing immediate, compassionate, specialized medical care in a safe and confidential setting to victims of sexual assault. Services began at the beginning of January.


“Since 2012, Door County has lacked SANE services, requiring victims of sexual assault to travel to Green Bay to obtain a SANE exam,” explains Sandy Vandertie, emergency department manager at MDCMC.  “This additional travel further traumatizes victims of sexual assault who need this specialized exam for their own physical and emotional well-being, as well as evidence gathering.”  To fill this void and provide needed services to the community, MDCMC has committed to offering SANE services.

“We have several nurses on staff who undergone extensive training for this specialized service,” explains Vandertie. “They have a great deal of compassion and understanding for victims of sexual assault, and very specific expertise.”

Ministry is partnering with local law enforcement as well as the Sexual Assault Center of Door County and HELP of Door County to ensure that SANE services are accessible to all men, women and minors aged 12-17 in the county. Ministry staff is currently working at obtaining training for staff to perform pediatric SANE exams, and expect to have that service available by summer of 2015.

“This is a service that we hope no one ever needs,” says Vandertie. “But we are dedicated to providing it for those who do.”


Door County Cancer Center Celebrates 10 Years

This year, the Door County Cancer Center at Ministry Door County Medical Center celebrates 10 years of caring for the community. Since 2005, the dedicated nurses and doctors of the Cancer Center have provided care to thousands of local residents. Dr. Sally Schlise helped found the center and served as its director until her retirement in 2012. She recalls how excited she was to be able to provide quality cancer care, close to home, when the clinic opened its doors in 2005.

“At the time I was working at St. Vincent’s, and there were so many Door County residents traveling to Green Bay for their cancer care. As a lifelong resident of Sturgeon Bay, I knew that offering services right here in Door County would benefit so many.” Through an innovative partnership with St. Vincent Hospital and Green Bay Oncology, Ministry Door County Medical Center brought life-changing cancer care to local residents.

Female doctor checking xray image

“We hear over and over again how our patients value the personal care they receive here,” says Dr. Schlise. “Patients feel at home here, and they are being cared for by experts who live right in our own community.”

This month, the Door County Cancer Center will begin installing a new linear accelerator that will take state-of-the-art images, providing even greater accuracy for patients receiving radiation treatments. During the installation of the equipment (January through mid-April) patients needing radiation treatments will be treated in Green Bay at either St. Vincent or St. Mary’s hospitals.

Other services at the Door County Cancer Center will continue uninterrupted. Dr. Richard Auchter, oncologist, will continue to see patients at the Door County Cancer Center, and staff will continue to provide medical oncology (chemotherapy) treatments.

For questions regarding the Door County Cancer Center, call (920) 746-7580.


Outpatient Lab Now Accepting Appointments

It’s a new year, and Ministry’s outpatient lab is now offering appointments for the convenience of their patients. “Our goal is to provide the best care, while decreasing patient wait times,” says Lori Schuerman, lab director. “By offering scheduled appointments, our lab will be more streamlined and efficient, resulting in shorter wait times to see a lab technician and quicker turnaround times for results.”


Patients will have the option of scheduling a lab appointment through their provider at the end of an office visit, or calling the lab directly. “Scheduling following an appointment with the doctor will help assure that doctors can keep care continuous and timely,” says Schuerman.

Walk-in patients will still be welcome at the lab, but they should be advised that patients with scheduled appointments will take precedence. “Our goal is to have 90% of our lab appointments scheduled by the end of the year,” says Schuerman. “Once the word gets out that these appointments are available, we’re confident patients will see the benefits.”

The lab is open Monday through Friday from 7am-6pm. For questions about the lab or to schedule an appointment, call (920) 746-3630.



Ministry’s Winter Concert Series Heats Up the New Year

Starting in January, Ministry Door County Medical Center will present a series of musical concerts featuring some of the best Blues, Jazz, Folk, Reggae and Alternative music from national touring artists. The concert series is a fundraiser for The Healing Project, a collaboration between Ministry Door County Medical Center and the Community Clinic of Door County, that provides free integrative health care services to men and women of Door County living with cancer. The Healing Project offers therapeutic yoga, Healing Touch, counseling, acupuncture and massage therapy. Treatments help relieve stress, boost immunity, alleviate pain and manage side effects of cancer drugs.

“The cost of cancer is high” says  Kevin Grohskopf, Chief Business Development Officer at Ministry Door County Medical Center, “but the potential of hope is much higher. It’s not walking in someone’s shoes that matters the most, it’s your willingness to walk beside them that matters more.” Through one courageous step at a time, Grohskopf believes that our community will come forward to support those in need.

Here’s the lineup!

Friday, January 16 @ 7:00 P.M – Door County Fire Company, Sturgeon Bay
Sons of the Never Wrong – They are a turbo-charged trio from Chicago that delivers witty, whimsical songs with their signature soaring vocal harmonies and gorgeous arrangements. Combining influences of folk, jazz, pop and rock.


Friday, February 6th @7:00 P.M Door County Fire Company, Sturgeon Bay
Corky Siegel and Howard Levy
It is only natural that Corky and Howard, two of Chicago’s most revered and celebrated music treasures, would come together to make people laugh while knocking them flat with the jaw dropping virtuosity.


Friday, February 20  @ 7:00 P.M – Door County Fire Company , Sturgeon Bay

IN THE ROUND WITH patmAcdonald, Corey Carlson & Dorothy Scott.

Edgy, Alternative, Playful, Awe-inspiring, mesmerizing, unique styles, passionate, daring and uncompromising!


Friday, February 27 @ 7:00 P.M - Caffe Tlazo, Algoma
Peter Mulvey, a phenomenal performer with huge energy, a quick – fire, quirky take on life, and an extraordinary guitar style..a joy to see and hear!


Friday, April 24 – Studio 330 330 N. Third Avenue, Sturgeon Bay
Robert Rich- Rich’s latest work re-examines the musical language of vintage electronic space music, using analog modular synthesizers to generate pulsating melodic filigree, interlocking patterns and sweeping abstract sonic gesture.

Tickets are $15.00, For reservations and more information call (920) 493-5979