Sandi Smith: Serving up Hospitality

When checking out at the hospital cafeteria register, chances are you’ll be greeted by Sandi Smith. Sandi celebrates 10 years as a nutrition technician at DCMC this year. She came to the hospital from her job as a baker at The Inn at Cedar Crossing, hired the same day as Doug Meyer, also an accomplished chef. “That started the trend of hiring top people from local restaurants,” she says.

But you won’t find any temperamental chefs here. The Nutrition Services Team works together to provide patient care in the form of personalized, nutritious meals. “We’re proud to offer room service to all our inpatients,” says Sandi. “We have nearly a dozen specialty menus, designed for different health needs, that patients choose from.” And because patients decide what and when they want to eat, the department has dramatically reduced food waste and costs. “That means more money can go towards patient care, medical equipment…the things that really matter,” says Smith. The team takes patient feedback seriously, and it shows; nutritional services is consistently rated at a 99% satisfaction rate.

Sandi Smith, nutrition technician

Sandi Smith, nutrition technician

In addition to providing patient nutrition, the cafeteria serves three meals a day to staff and guests. “We’re the best kept secret in town,” says Sandi. “Our food is delicious and reasonably priced. We’ve got regulars who eat here daily, just like any other restaurant.” All the cafeteria’s food is made from scratch, including soups which start with homemade stock, fresh produce and meats. DCMC’s CEO Jerry Worrick is a regular who never misses the Thursday breakfast special, grits with cheese. Another local couple comes in for the salmon, and many employees never miss the Thursday fresh salad bar. “We always have a healthy choice item on the menu,” says Sandi, “and we work closely with our in-house dietitians to design our menus.”

Sandi’s role as the “front of house” manager, to use restaurant lingo, keeps her in touch with the community. “I grew up here, so the people I see in the cafeteria every day were my classmates, neighbors and friends. There are so many reasons someone might be here – an illness, a sick child, or a family member in the Skilled Nursing Facility. We don’t know why they’re here, but being the friendly face who asks after them and their family provides comfort.” For Sandi, just connecting with the community through her daily work is a privilege. “I find myself praying a lot behind the counter,” she adds.

Sandi plans to work at DCMC until she retires. “The culture here is so strong,” she says. “All of us – from our staff to medical staff to senior leaders – take pride in what we are trying to accomplish: excellent patient care.”

Although Sandi worked in food preparation for many years, she has embraced her new hospitality role, into which she transitioned a year ago. “I’m kind of like the bartender,” she says. “People tell me how their day is going, what’s on their mind. People coming to the cafeteria need a break, whether it’s from their work day or from being at an appointment or visiting a family member. It’s nice to be able to be here for them – hopefully we make everybody’s day just a little better.”


HSHS St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center Receives National Recognition

Hospital Sisters Health Systems (HSHS) St. Vincent Hospital Regional Cancer Center was recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the 100 hospital and health systems with great oncology programs in 2016. The Door County Cancer Center, located on campus at Door County Medical Center (DCMC) in Sturgeon Bay, is part of the St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center. The Door County Cancer Center has provided state-of-the-art radiation and chemotherapy oncology care to local patients since 2005.

oncology-programs-2016Since 2002, the Cancer Center at HSHS St. Vincent has collaborated with the National Cancer Institute to deliver access to cutting edge clinical trials, drugs and prevention studies to local residents. The center received an outstanding achievement award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (Coc) for 2015, and is currently recognized by the CoC as an Integrated Network Cancer Program, the highest level of accreditation for non-teaching hospitals.

“We congratulate our health care partners, HSHS St. Vincent, for this honor,” says Jerry Worrick, President/CEO of DCMC. “We are pleased to provide state-of-the-art cancer care close to home because of the relationship we have built with the HSHS St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center and Green Bay Oncology.” DCMC is in the process of forming a partnership with HSHS that will permit the two organizations to continue to deliver high quality health care to Door County and northeast Wisconsin.


September 15 Silent Auction Benefits Ministry Fund

Since its founding 16 years ago, Door County Medical Center’s (DCMC) Ministry Fund has given more than $500,000 to local individuals struggling to meet their basic needs. Funds are given to patients in need of everything from durable medical equipment to prescription medications. The fund also provides help in paying utility bills or getting transportation to receive medical care, or finding temporary shelter while receiving medical treatment.

Little girl holding a red heartThe 2016 auction raised nearly $9,000, a significant part of the annual budget of the fund. On Thursday, September 15, DCMC will hold its annual Silent Auction to benefit the Ministry Fund. “Last year we had more than 65 local businesses who made donations,” says Katie Graf, social worker at DCMC who helped establish the fund. “In addition, every department in the hospital donates a gift basket of some kind. It is a team effort.The 2016 auction raised nearly $9,000, a significant part of the annual budget of the fund.

The Ministry Fund also receives assistance from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and the Fred Marcon Foundation, as well as numerous private donations and memorial gifts. Within the Ministry Fund are two additional areas, the Life Direct Fund, which helps the elderly and disabled with the cost of a personal emergency response service to ensure their safety, and the Brighter Day Fund, used for community members struggling with mental illness.

“The Ministry Fund reflects our mission as a hospital,” says Graf. “We aim to further the healing ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of all, especially the poor.”  She says that the many handwritten thank you notes she receives each year are a testament to the impact the fund makes on individuals and families:

I am writing to thank you for the work you do helping others. I recently had an emergency situation and needed to be in Green Bay to have my eye checked for a possible retina detachment. Your program helped me pay for what I could not. Thank you for going above and beyond for helping me with that unexpected doctor’s appointment.

-Ministry Fund recipient

The auction is open to the public, and runs from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in all three conference rooms on the lower level of the hospital. For more information, or to make a donation to the auction or the Ministry Fund, call Katie Graf at (920) 746-3622.


The Healing Project: Integrative Health Care for Cancer Patients

Now under the auspices of Door County Medical Center (DCMC), The Healing Project provides free integrative health care services to individuals with cancer. Services include acupuncture, energy therapy, massage therapy, nutrition counseling and behavioral health counseling.

healing project_brochure

Integrative therapies have been shown to benefit the physical, mental and spiritual health of those living with cancer at any stage. “Through The Healing Project, we offer opportunities to experience the interrelation of body, mind and spirit, and we educate people about the benefits of integrative health care,” says Jennelle Berg, program coordinator.

Studies have shown integrative therapies to be helpful in boosting the immune system, alleviating pain and managing the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. “Integrative health services can also be tremendously helpful in coping with the emotional side effects of the disease, including anxiety, stress and depression,” says Berg.

A recent Healing Project participant spoke to the program’s impact. “I was truly broken after going through surgery, chemo and radiation,” she says. “You listened, aided me in finding answers, and helped put my aching body back together. Thank you.”

Healing Project participants receive services from DCMC staff. The program is overseen by Healing Project Medical Director Dr. Chona Antonio, who also provides acupuncture services. The program is funded by the Cancer Healing Fund at the Door County Medical Center Foundation.

For more information on The Healing Project, contact Jennelle Berg at DCMC at 920.746.0726.


Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Being the caregiver for a loved one with chronic or severe health issues isn’t easy. “Caregivers often put the needs of their loved ones first. Over time, this takes a toll physically, emotionally and spiritually, and can lead to caregiver burnout,” says Door County Medical Center social worker Lauren Daoust. But there are ways to cope.

Be aware of your own health. Fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems and weight change can all be signs of caregiver burnout. “Caregivers often put off their own health care or surgeries because they feel there’s no one else to care for their loved ones.” Keep up with doctor’s appointments and take time for exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood.

Be proactive. Caregivers can get to a point when their emotional or financial resources are depleted they simply say, “I can’t do this anymore.” Reach out for help before the crisis point hits.

Granddaughter supporting her senior grandpa

Start with your network. Call on family, friends, church and your social group. “Our culture tends to value being proud and doing it all ourselves,” says Daoust.  “It’s okay to ask for help, and in the end, it’s better not only for the caregiver, but for the patient as well.”

Use local resources. The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Door County is a good starting point for those needing help. Sunshine House has a new adult day program for adults needing respite during the day. And DCMC has an award-winning Skilled Nursing Facility, for those needing full-time care. “Your doctor can also connect you with resources including social workers or counseling,” says Daoust.


Helping Kids be Kids: DCMC’s Outpatient Pediatric Therapists

Door County Medical Center (DCMC) has the only Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Department in the county. Therapists Katie Rankin and Chelsey Brusse work with children every day to help them improve their function in the daily lives.

Rankin and Brusse provide occupational therapy, helping build children’s independence with daily tasks including throwing a ball, getting themselves dressed and other developmental milestones. They also serve patients with ADHD or autism diagnoses, who often struggle with sensory regulation. “Although many of our patients are also seen by therapists in school, we focus on home and community-based activities that help kids function better in their families and daily life,” says Rankin.


Chelsey Brusse, OTR

Katie Rankin, OTR

Katie Rankin, OTR

The Outpatient Pediatric Department also provides speech therapy and physical therapy, all in a special set of rooms with equipment including swings, balls, balancing equipment and toys. The department works closely with DCMC’s financial advisors to make sure that services are accessible and affordable for families.

“We are proud that DCMC has such an outstanding team of therapists to meet the needs of local children. Families are grateful to have these services right here in Door County,” says Deb Whitelaw-Gorksi, Director of Rehab Services. As for Rankin and Brusse, their reward is seeing kids progress. “Children know when they’re improving, and we can see their feelings of accomplishment,” says Brusse. “The best part is helping them do things other kids can do, like simply playing ball in the backyard with a brother or sister.”

A provider referral is required to obtain pediatric therapy services. For questions, call Chelsey Brusse or Katie Rankin at 920.746.3650 ext. 3317.


Skilled Nursing Facility Increases Private Room Offerings

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) at Door County Medical Center (DCMC) is now offering an increased number of private rooms to residents. The facility has 22 private and four semi-private rooms. “We’re very excited to be meeting the demand for more private rooms,” says Judy Sinitz, RN, the SNF’s director of nursing, “and to continue to offer semi-private rooms for those who prefer that option.”

SNF resident Dorothy Schley cuts the ribbon at the recent opening ceremony of the renovated facility.

SNF resident Dorothy Schley cuts the ribbon at the recent opening ceremony of the renovated facility.

Residents who choose one of the newly renovated private rooms will still have plenty of opportunity for socialization. With the choice of communal meals, as well as daily group activities and individualized care, residents experience a home-like environment. In addition to creating more private rooms, the SNF also upgraded security measures to ensure residents’ safety.

DCMC’s Skilled Nursing Facility has consistently achieved an overall five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for their facility, staff and quality of care, placing it in the top 10% of long term care facilities in the nation. “In addition to our dedicated and caring staff, our SNF is distinguished by the fact that we are physically connected to the hospital and North Shore Medical Clinic,” says Sinitz. “This gives our residents unparalleled access to care.”

Newly renovated rooms are spacious, comfortable and private.

Newly renovated rooms are spacious, comfortable and private.

To learn more about the Skilled Nursing Facility at DCMC, call (920) 746-3663.


M.IN.D. Workshop Supports Those Coping with Memory Issues

You can do something about memory issues. Door County Medical Center presents Memory In Development (M.IN.D), a free workshop for people coping with an early dementia-related diagnosis or mild memory concerns. This six week, research-driven exercise and caregiver support workshop empowers participants and caregivers through access to education, strategies, and sPicture1upport in a socially enriching atmosphere.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers will be offered consecutively with MIND.  Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an evidence-based workshop researched to promote caregiver health by offering tools that enhance not only caregiving but caregiver wellbeing.  Any adult family caregiver, even those who do not have a loved one participating in MIND, can participate in Powerful Tools.

There are two locations for the workshops:


Northern Door: Scandia Village Good Samaritan, Sister Bay. Wednesdays, Sept. 7- Oct. 12, 12:30-3:30 p.m.

Sturgeon Bay: United Methodist Church. Wednesdays, October 17-Nov. 23, 12:00-3:00 p.m.

M.IN.D. is offered in collaboration between Ministry Memory Clinic, Door County YMCA, Scandia Village Good Samaritan, United Methodist Church, and the ADRC of Door County/Aging Services.  Lunch and materials are included. For more information or to register, please contact Program Coordinator Christy Wisniewski, at (920) 746-3504.



Living Well Workshop Serves Those with Ongoing Health Conditions

Door County Medical Center (DCMC) presents a free six-week workshop for those with ongoing health conditions, starting Monday, September 12. Developed at Stanford University, the workshop has been offered at hundreds of locations throughout the United States. It helps participants with ongoing health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, heart disease, anxiety and others to:

  • Find better ways of dealing with pain and fatigue
  • Discover easy exercises to help improve or maintain strength and energy
  • Learn the appropriate use of medications
  • Improve nutrition
  • Talk effectively with family, friends and health professionals
  • Understand new treatment choices
  • Feel better about life

For most of her adult life, local resident Doris didn’t worry much about her health. Then at 67, she was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. She tried to follow her doctor’s advice to take her medications, exercise, and eat better. But often she was tired and even a little depressed. “I figured it was just part of getting older,” she recalls.

Man hand puting the red soft heart in woman hand

Then Doris discovered the Living Well workshop. “I now have a new sense of being in control,” said Doris, “The workshop has really helped me put life back in my life.”

Taught by specially trained volunteer leaders, some who have health conditions themselves, the program covers a new topic each week and provides opportunities for interaction and group problem solving.  “We are really more like coaches,” says Christy Wisniewski, Geriatric Outreach Specialist at DCMC and a leader for the Living Well workshop.  “The answer to someone’s question is usually in the room.”

The next Living Well workshop begins Monday, September 12th, and will take place every Monday from 1:00 to 3:30 for six weeks at Door County Medical Center.

For more information or to enroll in the Living Well workshop, call Christy Wisniewski at (920) 746-3504.


Nursing As Ministry: Rachel Mallien, RN

For Rachel Mallien, being a nurse isn’t just a job. “It’s who I am,” she says. Her career at Ministry Door County Medical Center (MDCMC) has spanned 10 years – four as a medical assistant at North Shore Medical Clinic, and six as an RN in the Medical/Surgical Department and Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where she currently works.

IMG_5552“I love the ICU,” says Rachel. “It keeps you on your toes and engages your critical thinking.” Above all, it’s the teamwork she enjoys. “As nurses, we are encouraged to be the eyes and ears of the hospitalists. The doctors respect us and depend on us, and they are wonderful physicians. It’s a great working environment.” Rachel’s day-to-day job includes everything from administering medication, to helping patients ambulate, to providing family support for patients being discharged. “Of course, the rehab team, emergency team and medical/surgical team provide so much support for our patients. I never have to worry if my colleagues are going to be there to provide help – they’re just there.”

Rachel went back to school for nursing after starting a family. She, her husband, and her 13-year-old daughter live in Sturgeon Bay. “I wouldn’t have been ready for this career straight out of high school,” she says. “My life experience made me a better student and nurse.” While studying nursing at NWTC, she spent a summer in DCMC’s Nurse Externship Program. “That summer gave me a great understanding of the field. I worked with Ellen Knipfer, and learned that MDCMC was where I wanted to be.”

Recently, Susan Johnson, hospital chaplain, was visiting with a patient under Rachel’s care. The patient commented on the high quality of care she received and Johnson said of Rachel, “Being a nurse is truly her ministry.” Rachel couldn’t agree more. In addition to her work in the ICU, she enjoys volunteering as camp nurse at her church’s yearly summer youth camp, as well as serving as nurse for a recent mission trip to Haiti. “I’ll do it again next year, and any time I can,” she says.

As a DCMC ambassador, Rachel has changed several people’s minds about the hospital. “Some older people have perceptions about MDCMC left over from years and years ago,” she says. “I’ve encouraged friends and family to try us again, and when they do, they have been very pleased with their care, and amazed at our state-of-the-art facilities.”

As for her future, Rachel hopes to someday take a turn in the Emergency Department. “I thrive on learning new things. Really, I’d like to work in every department at some point!” Although her retirement is years away, she is already planning a second career as an outreach nurse, continuing her own ministry through faith-based trips and camps.