Family Practice Physicians Provide Lifetime of Care to Patients

Obstetric care just one area of service at ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca

Pregnant women in Waupaca can find the prenatal care and labor and delivery services they need right in their community. ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca has six physicians who can provide obstetric care to patients as well as other family medicine care. A certified nurse midwife is also on staff.

“Family physicians care for people from birth to death and enjoy the continuity of seeing families as a whole,” said Ellen Wenberg, MD, assistant medical director. “The added benefit of the OB care is seeing those families as they grow and change, adding new family members.”

Having a level of care that stretches from birth into geriatrics makes the Waupaca clinic unique. Dr. Wenberg noted that physicians like Charles Rathjen, MD, who joined in 1988, and Patti Kile, MD, who joined in 1994, have established relationships with their patients.  “They really have that longevity and continuity with families over the years,” she said. “They’re delivering babies of babies.”

That connection is good for the patients and the community, said Dr. Wenberg. “I think it improves community health as a whole because you’re just more familiar with the families in the community and what’s going on here,” she said.

The Waupaca clinic might not be in a big city but it is able to provide most prenatal services instead of sending patients elsewhere. For instance, Cesarean sections can be performed at Riverside Medical Center. The staff at RMC are also exceptionally attentive to laboring mothers, providing more personalized care, said Dr. Wenberg.

“Not only do we have a great group of doctors providing outstanding care, but the facility itself can provide some unique benefits to laboring moms, partners and infants,” she said.

Also on staff are Deb Ferguson, CNM, Kelly Pucillo, MD; Sarah Durst, MD; Jennifer Steinhoff, MD; and Dan Sutton, MD.

“The needs of the patients and the community are great enough that we are able to attract new physicians coming in,” said Dr. Wenberg, noting that patients come from Waupaca and surrounding communities.

Both Drs. Steinhoff and Sutton say they welcome the challenges and benefits that come with practicing in a rural community.  Dr. Steinhoff desired to serve in a small community so she found the right fit with Waupaca.

Compared to being in a suburban or bigger city “we just get to know our patients better and take care of them throughout all aspects of their life,” she said. “In other places, they might bounce around from specialist to specialist,” she added. “It’s just a different way of doing things. I really enjoy the opportunity to follow my patients.”

Should she come across an obstetric concern she is not familiar with, Dr. Steinhoff knows she can turn to, and learn from, her fellow providers or seek help outside the community.  Having the resources in the ThedaCare system for specialty care if that is needed is an added benefit to the patient and physician.

“Our group here is wonderful,” she said. Dr. Sutton agreed.

“It’s different not having certain specialties available immediately in your hospital,” he said. But there are internal as well as external resources to tap. “We have a great relationship,” he said.

From the obstetrics stand-point, Drs. Sutton and Durst perform C-sections. He also noted the hospital is a huge benefit to laboring mothers, from the one-on-one attention from the nurses to the lactation consultants, to the childbirth education classes available. And having a certified nurse midwife offers a different option for mothers, if they so choose, added Dr. Sutton. 

He also enjoys the relationships he is building with his patients. He wanted to practice in a rural area where whole family care was covered. “I like that we all take care of the entire family,” he said noting that makes the practice unique and a benefit to the community. “It’s a nice way to get to know the whole family.”