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Door County Medical Center and Upland Hills Health Receive Fifth Annual Quarles & Brady and Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative Community Engagement Award

MADISON — The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP and Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) are happy to announce the winners of their fifth annual joint Community Engagement Award. The $2,500 grant for the best example of a rural hospital engaging in joint efforts with the local community is awarded this year to Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. for its admirable partnership with the local technical college to facilitate nursing assistant training for high school students. As a close second, the $500 grant was awarded to Upland Hills Health in Dodgeville, Wis. for working with community partners to develop awareness around healthy eating and diabetes prevention. The awards are provided by Quarles & Brady.

RWHC is a cooperative of 41 rural acute, general medical-surgical hospitals throughout Wisconsin. The award recognizes two RWHC Member Hospitals demonstrating excellence in strengthening community health and wellness partnerships. Past honorees include Fort HealthCare, Southwest Health Center, Columbus Community Hospital, Sauk Prairie Healthcare, Edgerton Hospital & Health Systems, and Mile Bluff Medical Center.

"Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of our mission," said Tim Size, executive director of RWHC. "We are privileged to be able to highlight the impressive initiatives our member hospitals are undertaking to improve the health of their communities."

Door County Medical Center (DCMC) was recognized for its partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) to proactively build the area's workforce and highlight local career options. The goal was to improve upon the program that NWTC already had in place with local high schools. Enhancements included a Skills Lab, and a nursing instructor from DCMC who created a program between NWTC and DCMC consisting of a course that is offered as part of each high schools' daily curriculum. Eligible high school juniors and seniors can take the Nursing Assistant Course, which is taught by NWTC faculty—one of whom is a DCMC nurse—with classroom, lab, and clinical portions offered at DCMC. Since the program's inception, nursing assistant enrollments at NWTC have increased dramatically; 242 high school students have completed the course, with 175 still needing testing. Students have one year to be tested.

Upland Hills Health in Iowa County is being honored for its partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank's HungerCare Coalition. Ten percent of Iowa County residents are food-insecure, and six percent have limited access to healthy food. According to Second Harvest, one-third of the households they serve in Iowa County report having a member with diabetes, and two-thirds have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. In February 2019, Upland Hills and Second Harvest began providing up to 48 food-insecure patients with free diabetes-appropriate food and nutrition education for one year. Participants receive monthly, 30-pound boxes of healthy food, including vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, dairy, and whole grains. Participants also receive educational information on managing diabetes and recipes utilizing the foods they receive each month. The overall goal of the program is educating local residents about diabetes management, increased intake of healthy foods, and increased ability to control their diabetes moving forward.

Sarah Coyne, a partner with Quarles & Brady and a member of the Health Law Group in the firm's Madison office, has a longstanding relationship with RWHC and many of its member hospitals, and is delighted to partner with RWHC to offer this recognition for community engagement. "We look forward to this award announcement every year. It is heartwarming to see the amazing community engagement efforts from rural Wisconsin hospitals year after year.  Quarles & Brady is very proud to support such a worthwhile initiative."

The organizations will receive their awards at the RWHC Board of Directors meeting in September.

About Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC)
Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC), headquartered in Sauk City, Wis., has been providing affordable and effective services to healthcare organizations since 1979. RWHC is owned and operated by 41 rural acute, general medical-surgical hospitals. The Cooperative's emphasis on developing a collaborative network among both freestanding and system-affiliated rural hospitals distinguishes itself from alternative approaches. RWHC offers a variety of programs and services to its members, as well as other clients across the nation.