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Three Fox Valley health care organizations announce the creation of Catalpa Health to meet child and adolescent behavioral and mental health needs

Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare collaborate on creation of new organization

(Appleton, Wis. – Feb. 27, 2012) – Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin andThedaCare are creating a new organization to provide outpatient child and adolescent mental health services. Catalpa Health is being formed to provide seamless, accessible, collaborative behavioral and mental health services.

“The current approach to providing mental health services for children and adolescents in the Fox Cities is not optimal,” said Daniel E. Neufelder, president and CEO of Affinity Health System. “Our current model is fragmented with limited access to care and not financially sustainable. It was time to think differently about our collective approach to care.”

The 2006 LIFE study (http://www.foxcitieslifestudy.org/) showed that the community needs to focus on children’s mental health, and in response, Affinity, ThedaCare, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin began collaborating. That led to the Fox Valley Children’s Mental Health Center. The 2011 LIFE study confirmed that a need still existed, and in February 2011, Neufelder along with Dean Gruner, MD, president and CEO of ThedaCare and Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital and Health System, formed a committee to lead a strategic planning process to take the next step in addressing the community’s pediatric mental health care needs.

The process led the committee to form Catalpa Health, a stand-alone entity that will provide outpatient services including: individual and group therapy, psychological and neuropsychological testing, medical management (psychiatry) and prevention services for the local public schools. Inpatient behavioral and mental health services will continue to be provided by St. Elizabeth Hospital.

“It was clear from the start we needed to create a single, unified entity to provide the full continuum of pediatric mental health services,” said Dr. Gruner. “Catalpa Health is our response to the desire to find better ways to serve the mental health care needs of children in the Fox Valley.”

“We set lofty goals and we believe we can achieve them,” said Troy. “We are absolutely committed to increasing the number of children and adolescents whose behavioral/mental health care needs can be served. Catalpa Health will allow us to improve access to all levels of mental health care, eliminate duplication and improve operational effectiveness and create tighter connections with schools and community agencies.”

Catalpa Health is focused on:

  • Providing consistent best practices across the care continuum
  • Creating a common electronic medical record for outpatient services
  • Removing insurance barriers and other barriers to care
  • Improving the ability to attract, retain and develop talented physicians, providers, management and staff

Community representatives have been involved in defining the scope of the challenges, helping develop recommendations and helping engage the community in fundraising efforts.

A board of directors for Catalpa Health has been named. There are three board members representing each of the three partners and one from each organization must be a community member. Board members to date include:

  • Travis Andersen, president, St. Elizabeth Hospital
  • Larry Donatelle, MD, vice president of medical affairs, St. Elizabeth Hospital
  • Tom Schmidt, executive chairman, U.S. Venture, Inc.
  • Mary Downs, executive director, ThedaCare Behavioral Health
  • John Edwards, MD, pediatrician, ThedaCare
  • Dave VanderZanden, former president and CEO, School Specialty, Inc.
  • Mary Hosmer, director, Children’s Hospital & Health System Foundation, Inc.
  • Tim Klunk, executive director, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
  • Marne Keller-Krikava, vice president of strategy and business planning, J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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 Catalpa Health provides a full continuum of mental health, wellness and preventative services to children and adolescents in the Fox Valley. A collaboration of Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare, Catalpa Health believes in community partnerships and works with other mental health providers to ensure that all children are receiving the care they need

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