Three Fox Valley Health Care Organizations Announce the Creation of Catalpa Health, to Meet Pediatric Mental Health Needs

Catalpa Logo

February 27, 2012

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

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,” 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 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 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.”

“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 and greater connectivity between inpatient and outpatient medical records to ensure continuity of care
  • 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 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
  • Larry Donatelle, MD, vice president of medical affairs, Affinity Health System
  • Mary Downs, executive director, ThedaCare Behavioral Health
  • John Edwards, MD, 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.

A sustainable funding model draws on community and other support to provide long-term access to care and quality outcomes. Catalpa Health is dependent upon community support for referrals and funding. Fundraising efforts are continuing through the foundations of Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare.

About Catalpa

Catalpa Health provides a full continuum of behavioral and mental health services to children and adolescents in the Fox Valley. A collaboration of Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare, Catalpa Health provides comprehensive, community-based care to children. Catalpa Health relies on community support and is aided by the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, the Children's Hospital and Health System Foundation and the ThedaCare Foundation.

ThedaCareTM is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.