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: Ministry’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 Ministry 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.


The Wholeness of the Person: Dr. Chona Antonio

What is the focus of your practice?

I practice family medicine, and I believe in the wholeness of the person. I take a holistic, integrated approach to health combining conventional medicine with other modalities such as acupuncture. It’s important to me that people understand what’s going on with their bodies. I spend time helping them do that. Above all, I would like my patients to understand their own health. To me, that is treatment.

What is meaningful to you about being a doctor?

It’s about being of service. It’s funny, when I was just 5 years old, my mother told me “you will be a doctor.” This is not because of her ambition for me, but because she just knew. I ended up being the first doctor in our family.


How did your education influence your practice?

In addition to traditional medical training, I was trained in the humanities as my pre-med degree. Music and art introduced me to different cultures, including Chinese and Ayurvedic medical cultures. This was the window through which I realized there is more to medicine than our North American medical system. I started spending my weekends going to different communities and learning from traditional practitioners in the Philippines. I also learned from Chinese and Japanese teachers. I continue learning in the U.S.

How does this background help your patients?

It helps me understand and relate better to the patient. I can recommend different tools, including acupuncture, energy medicine and meditation that can be used according to the patient’s own philosophy of health. I educate my patients, showing them that any health decision has risks and rewards. Their own health is their responsibility. Integrative medicine is a partnership. The doctor is not the dictator and neither is the patient.

How do you care for yourself?

I get a great deal from my own family life. My philosophy is moderation. I make sure that I eat well, move well, sleep well and think well. Best of all, I make sure that I am happy.

Why do your patients seek your style of care?

Health is not just about medication. Ministry is setting the stage for integrative health care. We have excellent physical therapy and massage services that are part of this model of care. We have started the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. Music Heals is an ongoing activity now. We keep working to develop it even more. There is more to come.


Dr. Sandra Martens: Partnering with Patients

You have a great deal of experience in the field of family medicine. Tell us about your practice.

I’ve been practicing family medicine for 17 years. I enjoy the variety, everything from lumps and bumps to small procedures, and all ages including children. I have a lot of women in my practice as well, and I enjoy the relationships.

How do you work with your patients?

I try to make them a partner, approach their health problems together. We discuss different options. We go along together.


What is one of the greatest health challenges your patients face?

I would say that it is stress. It affects the whole family. A lot of employers have cut jobs, and those people left as the breadwinners in the family often feel overwhelmed.

How do you help your patients deal with stress?

It’s important to take care of yourself, to make good choices in nutrition. To stay healthy, I encourage people to set aside some time for exercise, even if it’s 10 minutes a day.

You’ve seen a lot of changes in the medical field since you began your career. What is one of the most positive?

Having electronic medical records makes it possible to give patients a simple summary at the end of a visit. I think it’s nice to remind people in a nutshell what we discussed, what the recommendations are, and any medication information they need.

How do you stay healthy?

I try to eat well. I walk my dog once or twice a day, rain or shine, because she will insist on it. I also practice Qi Gong, a form of meditative movement, for energy and range of motion. My father has done that for a long time, he introduced me to it. It’s a nice way to start my day.


National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. But this disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50.

Colorectal Cancer AwarenessEgg Harbor resident Pauline Peterson, now a 14-year survivor of colorectal cancer, received her chemotherapy treatment at Ministry, and has continued to be active in cancer support groups since her recovery. “It’s so important for people to be aware that this disease affects so many, and to be vigilent with screening for early detection,” she urges. Talk with your provider to find out which screening method is best for you.

What You Can Do

  • If you’re aged 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. Screening tests help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) so they can be removed. Screening also finds this cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
  • Be physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.

Fast Facts

  • Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.
  • Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. If you have symptoms, they may include: blood in or on the stool (bowel movement), stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away, or unexplained weight loss. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor.
  • Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing colorectal cancer. If you think you may be at high risk, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get tested.
  • There are several screening test options, including colonoscopy. Talk with your provider about which is right for you.

For more information on Colorectal Cancer Screenings, talk with your doctor or call the Door County Cancer Center. 


Dr. Kelton Reitz: Taking the Holistic View

Tell us about your practice.

As an osteopath, I take a holistic view. I see a patient as a whole person. I believe health care is changing for the better in that we’re focusing on health and wellness, not just illness. I work with a lot of people in the geriatric population, so I’m helping people manage chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

Dr. Kelton Reitz, Ministry Door County Medical CenterWhat’s special about working at Ministry?

With so many specialists under one roof, I can walk down the hall and consult with another provider who has expertise my patients need. We have a wonderful, stable staff and little turnover. There’s a great deal of continuity of care between providers, which is all about communication.

What’s your top piece of advice to your patients?

It’s important to exercise to the best of your abilities, to try to find the time to fit it in. In our community, many people are very busy during the summer months. Find some downtime when you can during your year, relax, take a vacation. It’s so important to decompress.

You’re quite involved in the community. How does that enhance your practice?

Ministry really is leading the health and wellness of our community. I stay active by serving on the Board of Directors here at Ministry, and I’m also the medical director for Unity Hospice. Like other providers, I’m out in the community, and my patients are also my friends and neighbors. You can’t find that kind of personal healthcare in other places, it’s special.


Ministry’s Rehab Services Relocates in New Scandia Village Facility

Those living in Northern Door County now have a new, improved Rehab Services Facility located at Good Samaritan Society Scandia Village in Sister Bay. “Ministry Door County Medical Center’s rehab facility has been providing care in Sister Bay for eight years, and demand for our services keeps growing,” says Deb Whitelaw-Gorski, Director of Rehab Services. “We are so grateful that the newly renovated facility at Scandia Village allows us to provide physical, occupational and speech therapies in a bigger, brighter space that will be even more comfortable and inviting for the patients we serve.”

Deb Whitelaw-Gorksi and Michele Notz at the new rehab facility

Deb Whitelaw-Gorksi and Michele Notz at the new rehab facility

“We’re blessed to be a collaborative partner with Ministry to provide the space for rehab services,” says Michelle Notz, administrator at Scandia Village. “Not only do our residents benefit, but Ministry can continue to serve the greater community as well.”

Fourteen staff members, including therapy, support, and Memory Clinic staff, will work out of the new space. Ministry’s rehab staff has won many awards for the high quality of their care and their approach to each individual patient’s needs. “There’s a lot of excitement in the air about the new rehab space,” adds Notz, “and it’s such a benefit that our Scandia Village residents and the community have these services close to home.”


Dr. Tomasz Michalski: Enjoy Every Stage of Life

You’ve been caring for patients at Ministry since 2008. Why family medicine?

It’s amazing what you can do in family medicine. We can make a huge difference by identifying a patient’s risk factors and changing the course of a disease. Best of all, we can prevent disease in the first place.

How has your international training affected the way you look at patient care?

Having done my undergraduate work in Canada and medical school in Poland, as well as my residency in the U.S., I’ve got a lot of perspective. I think it has made me more open to what the patient wants. I work with my patients, giving them information but asking them how they want to get better. When we get the answer from the patient, we succeed so much more.

michalski headshot

What is your philosophy of care?

I want to help my patients understand that their body is the vehicle that they are given, and it’s up to them to take care of it. You have only one shot in life. It’s important to enjoy every stage of life and be responsible for your own health.

With a family and four young children, you must be very busy. How do you take care of yourself?

We spend a lot of time being active: camping, skiing and swimming. Living here in Door County, it’s my wish to do more sailing as well. Everyone needs to identify their own coping skills. For me, my faith plays a big part.

What made you decide to be a doctor?

I always enjoyed science, but connecting it to the human factor is much more exciting for me. I enjoy being part of the connection between the biological, clinical and psychological. In the end, it’s about making a difference in human life.