Ministry’s Occupational Therapists: Out and About in Our Community

If you’ve ever asked “What exactly is occupational therapy?” you’re not alone. Occupational therapy (OT) gives people the skills for the job of living necessary for independent and satisfying lives. Ministry Door County Medical Center has 10 occupational therapy professionals ready to serve the community. They work in settings as diverse as elementary school classrooms, skilled nursing facilities, clinic and hospital rooms, and places of employment.

For Stephanie Whitley, an occupational therapist in Ministry’s hospital setting and Skilled Nursing Facility, it’s fulfilling to help patients achieve a safe discharge. “Recently I worked with a patient with a fracture to get him to the point that he could get back home. He made it, and celebrated a milestone birthday the next day!”

Katie Rockendorf provides OT in the Sturgeon Bay Schools. She helps students with sensory issues use various strategies to improve their focus and participation, thus enabling them to remain in the regular classroom with their peers. Rhawn Lampkins also works with students. “The other day I worked with a young boy, helping him with his handwriting and eye-hand coordination. We’re helping kids get the education they need,” says Lampkins.

Some of Ministry’s OT team

For many patients, getting back to the activities of daily living is the reason they seek OT care. Ann Rankin is a hand specialist who works with everyone from employees who suffer tendonitis from computer work, to patients recovering from acute injuries. “I enjoy helping people get back to doing what they like to do, whether it’s writing, or gardening or playing an instrument,” she says.

Ministry also provides occupational therapy services to residents of Scandia Village in Sister Bay, and therapist Carol Shabbit enjoys the variety of care she is able to give. “One of the services we provide is driver screenings to help determine if someone is still safe behind the wheel. It’s often a relief for the patient, the family and even the doctor to have our objective evaluation for a patient.”

Kim Kavanaugh works with the Home Health program and Ministry’s Memory Clinic helping patients with cognitive issues and providing practical ways to make life easy through organization, sequencing and compensatory techniques. “One of the most important things we do is educating families about cognitive and memory issues. It’s such a comfort to them to have the information they need to help their loved ones cope.”

A physician’s order is needed for reimbursement of occupational therapy. For additional information about OT, call us at (920) 746-0410.


First Grade Tours Introduce Local Youth to Hospital

Each spring, for more than 30 years, local first grade classes have been invited to tour Ministry Door County Medical Center and learn firsthand what goes on in an ambulance, how an x-ray is taken, and why it’s important to stay healthy and active.


Students visit Emergency Services and see the inside of an ambulance

This year, more than 285 students from all five public school districts, as well as parochial and home school students, experienced the tour. “Above all, these visits are about promoting health and wellness,” says Deb Hogan, chairwoman of the Hospital Auxiliary, who has helped organize tours for many years. “It’s great to give children an introduction to all of the good things we do here at the clinic and hospital before they have a reason to come here for a health issue.”

The tour features a chance to see the inside of an ambulance and a 9-1-1 emergency safety lesson, and visits to the Emergency Department, hospital laboratory and radiology department, where students learn about digital imaging. A visit with orthopedic surgeons Dan Tomaszewski and Steve Davis includes seeing a skeleton model and a chance for a lucky volunteer to receive a sample live cast. Students go home with surgical shoes and hats for role-playing and receive a healthy snack from the Ministry cafeteria before their departure.

First graders are all ears as they learn about radiology and digital imaging.

“In addition to familiarizing kids with the hospital, the tour is also a chance to introduce students to career opportunities in health care,” says Hogan. Of course, being first graders, many children want to share their personal stories about the hospital, from those in their family who work there, to the time they needed stitches. “We remind the kids about the difference between stories and questions,” says Hogan. “But we encourage them to make that connection, too. We are their local hospital, and we plan to be here for the lifetime of their healthcare.”


Athletic Edge Summer Camp Serves Local Student Athletes

Ministry Door County Medical Center is committed to the health and wellness of the community, including its many student athletes. This summer, for the seventh consecutive year, Ministry’s Athletic Edge performance enhancement camp will provide fitness training for seventh through twelfth grade students. The six-week program will run at local schools including Southern Door, Sevastopol, Sturgeon Bay and Gibraltar.

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The program is designed to help student athletes “gain the edge” and improve their speed, agility and power. Ministry’s expert Rehab Services staff runs the camp and helps students improve both physically and mentally as they progress through a conditioning and strengthening program.

“We take a proactive approach with students’ health, helping reduce the risk of preventable injury as they progress,” says Jason Linzmeier, ATC, director of Athletic Edge Camp. “Our staff works closely with student athletes throughout the school year, and we enjoy continuing that support in the summer months. We’ve seen a lot of kids come through this program who feel ready for the fall sports season, and are strong and confident.”

Spaces are still available at Athletic Edge Camp for 2015, with a discounted rate offered until June 1. Visit to register online, or call Jason Linzmeier at (920) 495-4303 for more information.


Ministry Runners Raise Funds and Awareness for Mental Health Care

The Door County Half Marathon is an amazing opportunity for outdoor silent sporting, enjoying scenic Peninsula State Park, and taking on a fitness challenge. But this year, a dedicated group of Ministry Door County Medical Center employees also used the event to trumpet a cause they believe in: mental health care.

Ministry staff ran to raise funds for mental health fund

Ministry staff ran to raise funds for mental health fund

A small group of runners sported “Belief in a Brighter Day” t-shirts, and raised money for Ministry’s Brighter Day Fund, which provides financial assistance for daily living for those living with mental health issues.

“We were so glad to make a difference by raising funds to help others in our community,” says Christy Wisniewski, geriatric outreach specialist at Ministry, who ran the half-marathon with several of her colleagues. “The best part was that we had a lot of folks asking us about our shirts, so we could explain what the Brighter Day Fund is and talk about the importance of mental health care.”

For more information on the Brighter Day Fund, or mental health care resources in Door County, call Ministry social worker Katie Graf at (920) 743-5566.


Ministry Fund Offers a Brighter Day to Those Living with Mental Illness

Sturgeon Bay residents Pat and Bob Scieszinski know firsthand the challenges of mental illness. “We are the parents of three wonderful young men,” says Bob, who retired last year as Chief Financial Officer of Ministry Door County Medical Center after 28 years of service. “Two of them have experienced mental health issues, and that experience led Pat and me to become advocates for mental health in our community.”

Upon retirement, Bob and his wife Pat discovered that Bob’s colleagues at Ministry honored them through the establishment of the Brighter Day Fund, a new fund established through the Door County Medical Center Foundation to assist with the needs of daily living for those navigating mental illness. They were deeply moved. “The fact that our friends and co-workers chose to honor us in this way is very meaningful to us,” says Bob. “It’s a cause that is close to our hearts, and a need that is finally getting the recognition it deserves here in our community.”


Bob serves as a board member at JAK’s Place, a resource and drop-in center for those affected by mental illness, as well as a member of the countywide Mental Health Focus Group. He and Pat know that those who live with mental illness not only need access to quality mental health care, but also struggle to obtain daily needs such as food, shelter and medication. “We know that people who deal with with mental illness are sometimes jobless or homeless,” says Pat. “There are fallout effects for people and for their families.”

The Brighter Day Fund offers help to individuals and be administered through Ministry’s social workers and financial counselors. “People can obtain help with a minimum of red tape and paperwork,” says Bob. “The assistance is immediate and impactful, as it should be.”

In Door County, mental health has been identified as an unmet community need through several studies, including separate Community Health Needs Assessments conducted by Ministry Door County Medical Center and Door County Public Health. “Meeting this need is in keeping with Ministry’s mission to provide compassionate care for all people, including the most vulnerable,” says Susan Johnson, Spiritual Services Director at Ministry. Johnson works as a liaison with area clergy, and has shared news of the fund with local religious leaders who often counsel members of their congregations or communities who are struggling. “Another advantage to the fund is that when individuals apply for a grant, our staff will also help direct them to other services in the community that could help them,” she adds.

To make a donation to the Brighter Day Fund, contact Mike Herlache at the Door County Medical Center Foundation at (920) 746-1071. For questions about receiving assistance from the fund, call Ministry social worker Katie Graf at (920) 743-5566.


Ministry Named Top 100 Critical Access Hospital Five Years Running

For the fifth consecutive year, Ministry Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay, WI was named one of the iVantage HEALTHSTRONG Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in the United States. The award was based on Ministry’s excellent performance in the areas of patient satisfaction, safety and value.

iStock_000010918521_Medium“Ministry is proud that our patient satisfaction scores put us in the top tier of rural hospitals on a national level,” said Gerald Worrick, Ministry CEO. “We thank our dedicated physicians and staff who have contributed to our achieving this designation. This recognition is an excellent reminder of the trusted, expert care available right here in Door County.”

Ministry Door County Medical Center scored in the top 100 of Critical Access Hospitals on the iVantage Hospital Strength INDEX™. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of US acute care hospitals, and the only one to include the country’s 1,300 CAHs. The results recognize that the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals provide a safety net to communities throughout rural America – measuring them across 66 different performance metrics, including quality, outcomes, patient perspective, affordability, population risk and efficiency.



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: 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.