ThedaCare Hospitals Earn National Recognition

March 2, 2020

ThedaCare Medical Centers-Shawano and Waupaca Named Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals

APPLETON, Wis. – Two ThedaCare hospitals have been recognized as 2020 Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals by The Chartis Center for Rural Health. ThedaCare Medical Centers-Shawano and Waupaca have earned the designation, which honors a rural hospital’s performance and is determined by the results of iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®.

“We are extremely proud to earn this recognition for two of our Critical Access Hospitals,” said Julie Chikowski, Vice President of Critical Access Hospitals at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. “It’s important that ThedaCare continues to provide the best care possible, close to home, which in so many cases is in our rural communities.” 

For the purpose of healthcare, ‘rural’ is defined as a geographic area with low population size and density, explained Chikowski. It can be a town, a small city or a township. 

The term Critical Access Hospital (CAH) is a designation given to eligible rural hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

According to CMS, here are some of the criteria for a Critical Access Hospital: 

• Have 25 or less acute care beds. 
• Maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours per patient for acute inpatient care.
• Be 15 to 35 miles away from the nearest hospital, depending on the local system of highways.
• Provide emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) notes that one in five Americans live in a rural area, and those areas face unique healthcare needs.

“Rural hospitals must address the specific issues of our small communities,” said David Corso, Vice President of Critical Access Hospitals at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca. “We work every day to meet wide-ranging health and wellness needs, including providing care for an aging population, treating and maintaining chronic conditions and ensuring access for a larger percentage of uninsured and underinsured people.” 

Chikowski noted that Congress created the CAH designation in 1997 in response to numerous rural hospitals closing during the 1980s and early 1990s. According to the Rural Health Information Hub, the purpose of the CAH designation is to “reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities.” Currently there are 1,300 CAHs in the United States. In the ThedaCare health system, its Medical Centers in Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose are designated as CAHs.

ThedaCare Medical Centers-Shawano and Waupaca are among 11 Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the state of Wisconsin. Chikowski added that being named in the Top 100 is a coveted award.

“This is a special honor for our hospitals and team members,” Chikowski said. “The Chartis Center compares all CAHs in the country. They take into account a hospital’s strength index, which is based on quality scores, health outcomes, patient satisfaction scores and cost per patient.”

ThedaCare Medical Centers-Shawano and Waupaca each have more than 30 specialty services offered to patients and families, including general surgery, obstetrics, physical therapy, imaging and more. 

“We hope more people understand how important rural healthcare is,” Corso said. “At ThedaCare, we are committed to keeping high-quality care local, while fulfilling our mission of improving the health of the communities we serve.”

The list of this year’s Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals as well as the INDEX methodology can be found at