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Ministry Health Care Community Report
Community Report

No Health Without Mental Health

No Health Without Mental Health

In February 2011, behavioral health leaders from Affinity Health System joined forces with leaders from ThedaCare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on a new community initiative: to work collaboratively to design and build a sustainable outpatient mental health delivery model for the children and adolescents of the Fox Valley.

Affinity behavioral health leaders united with Daniel Neufelder (then president and CEO of Affinity Health System), Dean Gruner, MD (president and CEO of ThedaCare), and Peggy Troy (president and CEO of Children’s Hospital and Health System) in forming a committee to complete a strategic planning process.

Several community members who trusted in our local healthcare systems and believed that the service to this special patient population could be improved encouraged the health systems to pool resources and work together. Many of these same community leaders generously supported the efforts with financial support and in-kind donations of their time.

As a result of these combined efforts, Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare launched Catalpa Health in 2012.

Two years later, Catalpa Health has become a stand-alone entity providing a full continuum of mental health services to children and adolescents in the Fox Valley. The funding model depends on the involved healthcare systems and community support to provide improved and sustainable access to mental healthcare.

Today, Catalpa Health employs more than 30 clinicians and 15 support staff. Catalpa Health services include:

  • Individual, family and group therapy
  • Neuropsychological, psychological and concussion testing
  • Medication management
  • Diagnostic evaluation for autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and gifted testing
  • Outcome-driven care with individualized measures of success in a model of care shared between the provider, patient and family
  • A continued commitment to explore areas of service growth, such as intensive outpatient care

Affinity supports Catalpa Health in a variety of ways. St. Elizabeth Hospital provides inpatient services for the mental health needs of children and adolescents. Dr. Larry Donatelle, St. Elizabeth Hospital’s chief medical officer, and Jessica Czaja, St. Elizabeth Hospital’s finance director, are members of Catalpa’s board of directors. Affinity Medical Group psychiatrists and psychologists serve clients at both St. Elizabeth Hospital and Catalpa Health.

In April 2014, Catalpa opened an access center, which facilitates the initial evaluation process by providing a preliminary mental health diagnosis and connecting children and families to mental health services. The access center significantly reduced wait times for mental health assessments from 54 days to five days, while also providing same-day crisis appointments.

Along with opening the access center, Catalpa Health opened a treatment center in Oshkosh on July 1, 2014. The treatment center has three licensed, master's-level therapists. Catalpa also offers school-based mental health therapy in 13 schools through the United Way PATH program in the Fox Cities, and Catalpa's HOST program in Oshkosh.

Catalpa Health plans to expand further, adding new clinicians and new services, all in an effort to meet the growing demand for access to mental healthcare in the Fox Valley. Because of Catalpa and a collaborative community healthcare approach, more clients than ever before are receiving the right care at the right time, close to home.

Published October 2014

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