Northern Health, Oconto Hospital partner to improve service

11/07/2011

OCONTO – Northern Health Centers and Oconto Hospital & Medical Center have established a partnership with the goal of improving dental health services for residents in and around the Oconto region.

The announcement follows a deliberate, months-long process in which Northern Health evaluated its options to expand its dental services by partnering with other health care entities. Northern Health officials determined Oconto Hospital & Medical Center was the best option. Oconto Hospital & Medical Center, 820 Arbutus Ave., Oconto, is supported by Bellin Health in Green Bay.

Under the partnership, Oconto Hospital & Medical Center will lease Northern Health space within its facility.

“We are leasing the space to Northern Health Centers to help meet the dental needs of a highly underserved population. The effort is part of Bellin’s mission to improve the overall health of the population,” said Laura Cormier, vice president of operations at Oconto Hospital & Medical Center. “Oral issues commonly show up in ERs but there is not much that ERs can do. Now we’ll have a designated area for routine preventative and emergency dental issues.”

Northern Health Centers, established in 1986, will provide the hospital and medical center with dental services including preventive care; dental emergency, periodontal and basic restorative services; and education and outreach.

The partnership fits well with Northern Health Center’s mission to increase access to high-quality services to those who have difficulties accessing care, according to Laura Waldvogel, executive director, Northern Health Centers, Inc.

“Partnering with other health care providers, public and private, is key to achieving our mission,” Waldvogel said. “It is our hope that we will expand this partnership to include other area providers and community organizations. This will allow us to build on the strengths of each organization and do far more for the patient and community than any of us can do alone.”

Cormier said the partnership with Northern Health will help boost the overall health of the community.

“Our partnership is a direct result of our ongoing efforts to enhance the health and wellness of this entire region,” she said. “This partnership will benefit the residents of Oconto and the surrounding region. Residents can be assured that our partnership with Northern Health Centers will result in enhanced local, top-quality, affordable care when it comes to their dental health.”

Northern Health Centers, 15397 Wisconsin Highway 32, Lakewood, is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides primary medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents of their service area.  In addition to accepting the typical types of insurance coverage, as an FQHC, Northern Health Centers offers a sliding fee scale to eligible patients who are uninsured or underinsured. Nearly 24 percent of Northern’s patients use the sliding fee scale.

Oconto Hospital & Medical Center – built in 2005 as a partnership between the Oconto Hospital Citizens’ Foundation and Bellin Health – offers emergency care, therapy, diagnostic services (CT, X-ray, ultrasound, and laboratory), designated hours of urgent care, sleep study, telemedicine, inpatient and swing bed care (hospital beds that can be used either for acute care or long-term care), and other basic services.

The hospital and medical center serves 7,000 patients annually. That number will rise to about 16,000 patients as a result of an ongoing expansion project. Following the expansion, Oconto Hospital & Medical Center will be able to offer additional services at the local level including a primary care clinic, outpatient surgery, cardiac echograms and stress testing and other services.

“Health care is a very personal choice. Our partnership with Northern Health Centers, when added to the to the existing relationships we have with other health care providers, means Oconto-area residents will have more choices to meet their health care and dental needs,” said Cormier.

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About Northern Health Centers
Established over 30 years ago, Northern Health Centers, Inc is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving residents of Oconto, Langlade, Marinette, Forest and Florence counties. FQHCs provide their services to all persons regardless of ability to pay and provide access to a board approved sliding-fee scale that is based on patients’ family income and size. FQHCs provide a menu of services including primary medical, dental and behavioral health. Northern Health Centers is actively expanding to better serve patients and meet the needs of the service area. 

About Bellin Health
Bellin Health, www.bellin.org, is an integrated health care delivery system based in Green Bay, Wis. It has served people in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1908. It is comprised of Bellin Hospital, Bellin Psychiatric Center, 26 Bellin Health Family Medical Center primary care physician clinics, and several retail health clinics known as Bellin Health FastCare. Bellin also operates Bellin Health Partners, a physician-hospital organization with more than 200 specialty physician members, the Oconto Hospital & Medical Center, a critical care access hospital in Oconto, Bellin Fitness Center with four locations, and Bellin College. With its 3,080 employees, Bellin Health is known for its emphasis on preventive health care and is the region’s leader in cardiac, orthopedics, sports medicine, digestive health, mental health, and primary care medicine.