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Modernization at ThedaCare-Neenah reaches significant milestones

The full project is expected to be completed in early 2024

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July 26, 2023

NEENAH – In 2021, ThedaCare Health System announced it was making a $100-million investment to modernize ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, which serves as the system’s anchor hospital and Level II Trauma Center for critical care.

Today, nearly two years later, multiple milestones have been reached in the modernization project which ThedaCare titled “Inspired Past; Healthier Future Modernization.”

Earlier this month, ThedaCare announced it had completed the modernization of the Trauma Center and the addition of a second helipad – this accompanies the completion of the Emergency Department modernization project completed in March.

In an interview with The Business News, Lynn Detterman, senior vice president of the ThedaCare South Region, said modernization of the Emergency Department, Trauma Center and new helipad “is a significant portion of the $100 million.” 

“The Emergency Department is the image of the hospital,” she said, “and it’s here for your most critical time, and our Emergency Department was undersized.”

The new space includes a designated Emergency Department entrance, a larger waiting room, eight additional emergency care rooms (bringing the total number to 20) and three triage rooms. 

The Level II Trauma Center itself has also been redesigned to coordinate critical care at ThedaCare Medical Center-Neenah.

“The trauma bays had lived their useful lives,” Detterman said.

They now feature CT scanning so patients do not need to be transferred to another area of the hospital for imaging.

“This was important…,” she said. “(Trauma Center physicians) did not like that they lost line of sight on those patients.”

During the project announcement, Raymond Georgen, ThedaCare System Trauma medical director, said having a CT scanner next to the trauma room allows for rapid imaging of seriously injured patients, “and that is extremely valuable during crucial moments.”

“Again, we’re on the clock,” he said. “Our teams must work quickly.”

Detterman said ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah is the only Level II Trauma Center in this region.

“So, if patients did not have access to services here at Neenah, they would have to be transported to Milwaukee, potentially Green Bay, Madison, pretty far from home,” she said.

ThedaStar gets second landing site
Also part of this recent phase of modernization was the debut of a second helipad for the ThedaStar Air Medical Program, which is adjacent to the Emergency Department entrance.

In addition to the new helipad, Detterman said there is also a separate hallway for arriving, allowing patients privacy during their transfer into the Trauma Center.

The current ThedaStar helipad and hangar, located near the W.G. Bryan Bridge (also known locally as the Oak Street Bridge), she said, will continue to be used. 

This second helipad is advantageous, Detterman said because it is located adjacent to the Emergency Department.

With the original helipad, once ThedaStar landed, Detterman said patients “had to be transported across the campus to the Emergency Department,” and during inclement weather, patients were then transported down a public corridor. 

The second helipad, she said, will save “precious minutes” and allow for “human dignity.”

Georgen said having an aircraft that is staffed and readied for immediate response 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is critical for the communities ThedaCare serves.

“There have been thousands of lives saved due to the access ThedaStar provides,” he said. Since 1986, ThedaStar has completed more than 15,000 flights providing emergency medical transport services to communities across Wisconsin.

Cath lab modernization
In June, the modernization work to the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (Cath Lab) and Special Procedure Suite that is integrated into the Surgery Department was completed.

A cath and specials lab is an area with diagnostic imaging equipment and technology that can be used to care for cardiovascular and stroke conditions. 

This is a specialized area where teams can provide minimally invasive tests and advanced cardiac procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease. 

Since 2019, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah has been accredited as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The new Cath Lab and Special Procedure Suite allows teams to provide emergency stroke care, such as surgical thrombectomies, clot removal and coil procedures. Submitted Photo

The new Cath Lab and Special Procedure Suite allows teams to provide emergency stroke care, such as surgical thrombectomies, clot removal and coil procedures, as well as other neurological treatments. 

One of the pieces of equipment that has been updated in the cath and specials lab is biplane imaging – which produces highly detailed images of blood vessels, soft tissue and blood flow in real-time, and can also be used to help identify precise locations of a condition a patient might be experiencing, such as a blockage or aneurysm. 

“We are pleased the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Special Procedure Suite were included in the modernization plans,” Todd Peebles, neurointerventional radiologist and co-medical director of the ThedaCare Stroke Center, said. “Because of the time-critical nature of stroke events, hospital systems must have the best teams and resources available, and also the ability to act with efficiency. We feel the updated space enhances the team’s ability to provide that for patients.” 

Updated therapy spaces
The modernization work in the medical center’s Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy space was also completed in June. 

The project moved the therapy area from the first floor of the hospital to the third floor of the medical office building.

Updates include additional private treatment rooms and the implementation of a walking harness with opportunities for patients to work on gait and balance.

The updated therapy space includes additional private treatment rooms and an updated driving simulator

It also includes an updated driving simulator, which allows teams to evaluate if a person can return to driving, which also provides an opportunity for patients to practice their driving skills before they are cleared. 

Melissa Schaefer, manager of the ThedaCare Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy Program, said the expanded therapy area is also brighter and more comfortable to provide a more encouraging environment.

“We are pleased to offer these updated areas for patients and families in our community,” she said. “The investment in these spaces will allow teams to meet the growing demand for convenient, specialized services and provide more comprehensive and coordinated care.”

Construction continues 
Detterman said the next areas of focus for modernization include:  

A new Women’s Center, which includes mammography, diagnostics and imaging and bone density testing.Redesign of in-patient Behavioral Health services.Creation of a “Main Street,” where diagnostic outpatient services will be located on the first floor of the hospital for easier patient access.A new, more convenient dining area on the main floor.Updates to the Family Birth Center.Updates to the operating rooms to include advanced robotic surgical equipment and the creation of four dedicated robotics suites.
Community support
The full modernization of ThedaCare Medical Center-Neenah is expected to be completed in early 2024.

Detterman said the project has been funded in part through donors who support the ThedaCare Foundation-Neenah, which raised more than $15 million in philanthropic support. 

In addition, the foundation released $25 million from existing assets to provide a total of $40 million for the project.

“Updates to the Neenah campus are benefiting the region and surrounding communities the ThedaCare system serves, ensuring our patients have access to the care they need,” Detterman said.

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