Ministry’s Sleep Facility: Quality Sleep for a Better Life

If you have trouble sleeping at night, you’re not alone.  Up to 15% of Americans have a chronic sleep disorder, and many more don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Ministry Door County Medical Center’s Sleep Facility offers the support, information, and treatment that patients need for a better quality of life.

Studies show that quality sleep is linked to better immunity, more physical and mental energy, increased ability to learn and retain information, and many more positive outcomes.  During National Sleep Awareness Week, the facility’s staff is on a mission to educate the community about the importance of sleep.  “Sleeping well is the key to living well,” says Nancy Ruff, director of the Sleep Facility. “Our goal is to reduce or eliminate sleep problems to improve people’s health and quality of life.”

Beautiful woman sleeping in white bed

The nationally accredited facility, which is located in a tranquil corner of Ministry’s Sturgeon Bay campus, offers several different options for diagnosis and treatment.   Patients can choose an overnight diagnostic session, where they will sleep in a quiet suite with a whirlpool, comfortable beds, a private bathroom, wi-fi access, and complimentary breakfast.  Or, they may opt for an at-home sleep test.  “We are the only facility in the area that offers this at-home test, which is very accurate and qualifies patients to go straight into treatment,” says Ruff.

There are many factors that affect sleep, including diet, physical activity, alcohol use, medication, anxiety, and even sharing a bed with children or pets.  Providers take all of these factors into account, as well as using the latest technology to monitor heart rate, breathing patterns, brainwave activity and other key indicators. The procedures are safe and totally non-invasive.

The most common diagnosis for patients with sleep disorders is sleep apnea, though sleep lab staff also see patients with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and other problems.  “Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing for periods during the night,” explains Ruff.  “It’s a serious condition that is linked to stroke, hypertension, and even type-2 diabetes.”  Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring at night and sleepiness during the day.  The cumulative lack of oxygen to the brain also results in decreased reaction time, a real concern when drowsy drivers are behind the wheel.

Providers at the sleep facility are Dr. Richard Hogan and Dr. Andrzej Kurek, who meet personally with each patient the morning after their testing to explain results and lay out treatment options.  The most common treatment for apnea is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, and Ruff reports that patients who choose this therapy are often elated with the results.  “I hear comments like ‘You saved my life.  My wife is so happy, because she’s sleeping better, too!’”  Ruff says that people should not be satisfied with sleep that is fraught with problems.  “Sometimes patients, especially older adults, think that this kind of fatigue is normal, but it’s not.  And we can help.”

Ministry’s Sleep Lab also offers free screenings to the community.  Screenings indicate a patient’s risk for a sleep disorder, and individuals can self-refer for this service.  To schedule a free screening, sleep evaluation, or to get more information, call Ministry’s Sleep Facility at (920)746-3570.


It’s Not Just a Job, It’s a Vocation: A Conversation with Dr. Richard Hogan

You were the first internist here at Ministry nearly 22 years ago. Tell us why you’ve stayed.

It’s the community. Having come here with my family from Chicago, I can say that Door County has the nicest people in the world, both my patients and my colleagues. We have a beautiful, modern, up-to-date facility and excellent nursing care. I can’t imagine a better place to practice.

What is your philosophy of care?

We’re given the precious gift of life. My job is to help all of my patients be as healthy as they can be. My specialties in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine and sleep medicine, help me offer specific expertise in theses areas.

For my older patients, of whom I have many, I help them be as healthy as they can possibly be with the limitations they may have. I love being part of the drama of life. It’s not just a job, it’s a vocation.

hoganTell us about your colleagues.

My patients, some of whom have been with me for 20 years or more, know that they can trust me and my team: that includes nurses, LPNs and support staff. If I tell them that someone is going to follow up with them about test results or medication, they know it will get done. We truly are a medical home for the people in this community.

Did you always know you would be a physician?

My father was a pharmacist’s assistant, but he would have liked to become a doctor. When I was seven years old growing up in Chicago, our class took a trip to the Museum of Science and Industy, and a classmate told a reporter who photographed our class that she was going to marry me and I’d become a doctor. I married my lovely bride Deb instead, but my classmate was right about the doctor part.

How do you take care of yourself?

Staying connected with my family, including my five children, is a big part of it. I also work out three times a week and do a relaxation technique every day for 10 or 15 minutes. I love to read. I’m part of a book club with a small group of other physicians. We’ve been going for 6 or 7 years…it’s a real joy.




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.