Fox Cities health systems form non-profit focused on pediatric mental health

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
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Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare are creating a new organization to provide outpatient pediatric 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,” says Daniel E. Neufelder, Affinity president and CEO. “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 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 Dr. Dean Gruner, president and CEO of ThedaCare, and Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, 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.

“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

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

Catalpa Health will employ approximately 21 providers and 15 support staff.  Staff will come together in shared facilities in the Appleton and Oshkosh areas, in the late summer and they will become employees of Catalpa Health effective Jan. 1, 2013.

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
  • Dr. Larry Donatelle,   vice president of medical affairs, Affinity Health System
  • Mary Downs, executive director, ThedaCare Behavioral Health
  • Dr. John Edwards, pediatrician, ThedaCare
  • Mary Hosmer, director, Children’s Hospital & Health System Foundation, Inc.
  • Tim Klunk, executive director, Children’s Hospital-Fox Valley
  • Dave VanderZanden, former president and CEO, School Specialty, Inc.
  • Marne Keller-Krikava, vice president of strategy & business planning, JJ Keller & Associates. Inc.

A search has begun for an executive director for Catalpa Health and is expected to be completed in April. Physicians and staff from the three organizations will be transitioning to the new organization over the next few months. A facility search currently is also being conducted and it is expected Catalpa Health will be fully operational by Jan. 1, 2013.