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Wisconsin Ranks 2nd in Nation in Electronic Health Records

October 2-6 is National Health IT Week, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is pleased to announce the state is one of the nation’s leaders in the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR), which improve the quality of care for patients.

The Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) ranks Wisconsin second in the nation in the use of EHR, noting that 92 percent of all office-based physicians in the state have adopted or demonstrated meaningful use of EHR. Nationwide, 60 percent of all office-based physicians have demonstrated meaningful use of the technology.

“What this means for patients is better coordination and quality of care, in addition to better outcomes in the delivery of health care,” said DHS Secretary Linda Seemeyer. “We’re proud of all health care professionals at our hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities who recognize the value of EHR in their efforts to provide exceptional care to patients across the state.”

In June, DHS announced that it awarded a contract to Cerner to bring EHR to all seven of its facilities, including the Mendota and Winnebago Mental Health Institutes.

This is the third time in three months that Wisconsin has ranked high in health care. Last month, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Wisconsin was ranked the top state in the nation for health care, with the highest overall health care quality score. In July, Wisconsin’s Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) were named best in the nation by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for outstanding quality performance.

Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed October 2-6 as Health IT Week, in recognition of the advantages of investing in and using technology to improve the quality of health care in Wisconsin.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers incentives to eligible hospitals and professionals to adopt, implement, upgrade and meaningfully use certified EHR technology. The DHS eHealth program has resources for both health care consumers and providers on how to benefit from Health Information Technology (HIT).

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Wisconsin Man with Nail in His Heart

A Wisconsin man is lucky to be alive after a nail pierced his heart during a construction accident.

While building a frame for a fireplace seven weeks ago, Doug Bergeson, of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, was holding a nail gun and accidentally fired a three-and-a-half inch nail into his chest.

“It didn’t really hurt. It just felt like it kind of stung me,” Bergeson told ABC affiliate WBAY in Green Bay.

But his work for the day was definitely over.

“When I saw the nail moving with my heart, it’s kind of like, ‘I’m not going to get anything done today,'” he added.

Though the small metal spike was sticking out of his chest, Bergeson didn’t bother to call 911. He drove himself 12 miles to Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette.

“It seemed like the thing to do,” Bergeson said. “I felt fine, other than having a little too much iron in my diet.”

Hospital staff rushed Bergeson to Aurora BayCare Medical Center where he underwent open-heart surgery.

“A wrong heartbeat, a wrong position and he would have had a much more complicated problem than he was bargaining for,” said Dr. Alexander Roitstein, who performed the surgery.

Bergeson did not have any permanent damage to heart, just a scar and an appreciation for the power of nail guns.

“Accidents, they can happen so quickly, and fortunately this one had a good ending,” he said.

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Wisconsin State Fair Eats & Treats

Member companies in the popular Something Special from Wisconsin™ (SSfW) program proved they are indeed “something special” by capturing 22 of 31 possible awards at the Wisconsin State Fair Eats & Treats judging competition.

When final judging concluded last week, SSfW member companies had dominated the competition, taking home seven 1st Place awards; four 2nds, five 3rds, and five 4ths, along with the coveted Best of Show – Grand Champion Award. That award was captured by Honestly Cranberry, a Wisconsin Rapids-based company.

Open to Wisconsin small professional food businesses with yearly sales under $250,000, the Wisconsin State Fair Eats & Treats competition is ideally suited for small- to mid-size players in the food processing industry. Judging takes place in nearly a dozen categories, such as relish and pickled vegetables; barbecue and hot sauces; cookies, candies, chocolates and frosting; fermented products; snack foods; and condiments.

The 22 awards were won collectively by the following SSfW companies: Pleasant’s Best Sauces, Minocqua; Diana & Daughters LLC, Manitowoc; Dashelitos Enterprises LLC, Madison; Howling Wolf Gourmet Foods Inc., Theresa; Garden of Eden Kingdom, Milwaukee; Living Sweet P’s Pantry, Oconomowoc; Duck Creek Vineyard and Winery, Denmark; Honestly Cranberry, Wisconsin Rapids; Timber Hill Winery, Milton; Grammy’s Pasty’s, Green Bay; Pop’s Kettle Corn, Muskego; and WisConian Delectables, Kenosha.
Founded in 1983, Something Special from Wisconsin™ is a trademarked marketing program administered by the Division of Agricultural Development of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

The easily-recognizable red, white and yellow SSfW program logo helps member companies stand out from the competition by providing a quick and reliable way to identify genuine Wisconsin products and services at grocery stores, retail outlets, farmers’ markets and restaurants. Any Wisconsin business, no matter how big or small, can apply for approval to use the SSfW logo if at least 50 percent of the value of the product or service is attributable to Wisconsin ingredients, production or processing.
Products showcasing the logo enjoy a competitive edge with consumers, with surveys indicating more than 70 percent of Wisconsin consumers are more likely to purchase a commodity made or grown in Wisconsin than one from outside the state. The program currently has nearly 500 members.

“We are extremely pleased with the success of our SSfW member companies at the Eats and Treats competition,” said Lois Federman, SSfW director. “The SSfW logo brings instant recognition and credibility which helps products stand out above the rest, and the results of the competition are testament to the fact that SSfW companies are producing products of truly the highest quality and desirability.”


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Only In Wisconsin…

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: ‘SEX’ PAINTED ON WISCONSIN WATER TOWER _ A water tower in Wisconsin had the word “sex” on it for about a day — and it was basically approved by the town’s leaders. Sussex, about 20 miles northwest of Milwaukee, was having its water tower painted. The painters took a break Wednesday to allow paint to dry after covering the letters s-u-s. The word was fully covered by late Thursday morning.


Lakeshore News

WAEC Receives Another Donation

Norval and Jean Dvorak’s legacy will live on through the mission of the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center (WAEC). Today, the entire WAEC family is humbled and honored to announce the Dvorak family is making a $100,000 gift the capital campaign.

Steve & Melanie Dvorak have come together to honor their parents’ vision for agricultural education in our region. The family, along with their business, DVO, Inc. and D&D Equipment want to ensure not only their parents’ story is told but also the story of the countless farm families and industry leaders they worked with and alongside all their lives.

Norval was an agricultural pioneer whose impact was both local and global in nature. His efforts may have started in Manitowoc County but soon spread across Wisconsin, the Midwest and eventually to Eastern Europe.

Perhaps one of his greatest contributions to the agricultural industry was launching the cooperative movement which resulted in improved prosperity on Wisconsin farms. He was the visionary behind and helped to establish Lake-to-Lake Cooperative, Lakeland Egg Marketing Cooperative and Poland’s first ever agricultural cooperative.

For this reason, the family and WAEC is proud to name the “Pioneer” exhibit in Norval and Jean’s honor. This exhibit will be housed under the “Agri-CULTURE, How Are You Connected?” educational theme. Now visitors will be able to learn about and celebrate Norval’s historic impact and the impact of other notable industry innovators.

“Norval was a visionary and it was his vision of educating people about modern day agriculture and food and fiber production that inspired the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center.” said Scott Gunderson, Manitowoc County UW-Extension Agriculture Agent and WAEC Board Member. “Norval and his family devoted thousands of hours of this project. This gift is another testament to their unwavering commitment to WAEC’s success.”

Sadly, Norval and Jean Dvorak did not live to see their WAEC dream come to fruition. This gift, in addition to the numerous gifts given in Norval, Jean and their son, Dick’s honor, brings the Dvorak Family Memorial Fund to $ 112,548. This collective generosity is helping WAEC realize their dream.

Norval and Jean will be remembered as true stewards of agriculture. Their indelible mark will endure for generations and in some way they will live on through all of us who continue to invest in the prosperity of the agricultural industry.

To learn more about WAEC or to make a gift to the capital campaign, visit


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Here’s How Wisconsin Residents Can Help Our Dairy Farmers During the Current Crisis

Two weeks ago, dozens of Wisconsin dairy farm families were informed that they will no longer have a buyer for their milk as of May 1. This is a direct result of Canadian dairy pricing policies, which have the effect of fencing out US milk products.

Wisconsin residents have reached out to Secretary Brancel to express concern and to ask how they can help. Here are suggestions from Secretary Brancel and the impacted families:

  • Buy Wisconsin dairy products, which helps provide a market for the milk produced by our hard-working dairy families.
  • Donate Wisconsin dairy products to a local food bank. The impacted dairy families ask that you buy and donate five products.
  • Donate to the Great American Milk Drive, which provides vouchers to needy families for purchase of milk. Vouchers are distributed throughout Wisconsin through Feeding America/Second Harvest infrastructure. Donate online


Find more DATCP news in our Newsroom, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Community Events, Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Wisconsin Launches Caregiver Career Program

In an effort to attract and retain more nursing home caregivers, Wisconsin is launching an innovative program called the Caregiver Career Program. The Department of Health Services (DHS) has received federal approval to move forward with the more than $2.3 million investment to implement the Wisconsin Caregiver Career Program, designed to add up to 3,000 nurse aides to the workforce, in this high demand field.

“We recognize that Wisconsin needs committed caregivers for our state’s most vulnerable adults,” said Secretary Linda Seemeyer. “As our population ages, it becomes even more critical that we invest in our workforce, so those served in nursing homes get the best quality of care.”

DHS is developing the program in partnership with nursing homes, LeadingAge Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Health Care Association, and the Wisconsin Technical College System. The program will offer training and testing at no cost to students, and also implements a $500 retention bonus for nurse aides, after six months on the job at a nursing home. The program will also include a marketing and recruitment plan to not only increase the number of people entering caregiver careers, but also increase awareness about the value of caregiving and the change caregivers can make in the lives of Wisconsin’s elders.

Nurse aides provide basic care for residents in nursing homes, performing duties from feeding to bathing to dressing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of nursing assistants will grow 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. This is largely due to aging baby boomers, which are increasing demand for patient care.

In Wisconsin, more than 87,000 residents live in long-term and residential care facilities. That’s an increase of 18 percent since 2003, yet one in seven caregiving staff positions is unfilled.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Poultry Owners Urged to Increase Biosecurity Efforts

Animal health officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection are urging all poultry owners, regardless of size, to increase biosecurity efforts now that two strains of avian influenza have been found in the Mississippi flyway.  This comes after a highly pathogenic (H7) strain was found in a Tennessee commercial chicken flock and a low pathogenic (H5) strain was found in a Wisconsin commercial turkey flock.

“It’s in a poultry owner’s best interest to take precautions now to minimize the effect that avian influenza will have on their flock if the disease makes its way to Wisconsin,” says Dr. Darlene Konkle, Wisconsin’s Assistant State Veterinarian.

The H5N2 strain found in Wisconsin is not related to the H7 strain found in Tennessee.  High path strains are often fatal for birds, but the low path strain found in Wisconsin is not uncommon in poultry flocks and tends to cause few, if any, clinical signs of illness in the birds.

“Low path avian influenza is similar in severity to the common cold in humans and will eventually clear from the flock without bird loss,” Konkle said.

Konkle recommends the following six steps for protecting birds from HPAI:

  1. Keep your distance—Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.
  2. Keep it clean—Wash your hands thoroughly before and after working with your birds.  Clean and disinfect equipment.
  3. Don’t haul disease home—Buy birds from reputable sources and keep new birds separated for at least 30 days.
  4. Don’t borrow disease—Do not share equipment or supplies with neighbors or other bird owners.  If you must borrow, disinfect it first.
  5. Know the warning signs—Early detection can help prevent the spread of the disease.  Check your birds frequently.  If you find a sick or dead bird, don’t touch it.
  6. Report sick birds—Don’t wait.  If your birds are sick or dying at an abnormal rate, call DATCP at 1-800-572-8981. If you notice dead wild birds, call the DNR’s hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

CDC considers the risk to people to be low.  No human infections with these viruses have been detected at this time.  In addition, poultry and eggs are safe to consume as long as they are properly handled and meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

More information about avian influenza is available at and from the USDA-APHIS at

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Wisconsin Hit Hard by Flu Bug

The flu bug is hitting Wisconsinites hard, spiking to nearly 1000 confirmed cases, and hundreds of hospitalizations. According to figures from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) there are 936 confirmed cases of influenza in Wisconsin, compared to 176 during the same period last year. The week-to-week comparison shows that there were 591 confirmed cases reported just a week ago, an increase of 345 from the previous week. (See graph)

There are also more hospitalizations for influenza this year than during the same time last year. To date, there have been over 1200 hospitalizations of people with influenza, compared to just 235 during the same period last year. (Graph below)

Confirmed influenza cases 2015 - 2017

Influenza related hospitalizations

“At this point, the number of flu cases in Wisconsin has already exceeded the number of cases at the peak of flu season last year,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “The flu can be especially harmful for children and people over 65, as well as those with other health problems. We recommend those who have yet to get a flu shot to get one now, and to follow common sense practices to avoid spreading viruses.”

Those steps include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve, and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.
  • Use your own drinking cups and straws.
  • Avoid being exposed to people who are sick.
  • Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and do not smoke.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, refrigerator handle, telephone, faucets).
  • If you’re sick, stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
  • See a health care provider if your symptoms persist or get worse.

Influenza numbers are updated every Friday and can be found in the Weekly Respiratory Report, or you can sign up to receive the report via email (link is external).

Community Events, Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Wisconsin: A Great Place to Get Started

Wisconsin has a workforce problem that is compounded by an image problem. According to a 2015 national perception survey, America’s Dairyland is viewed as just that. People from across the country believe agricultural-related jobs are most plentiful in the state, but they view Wisconsin as lacking job opportunities in general.

Other negative views of Wisconsin – cold weather, for example – are harming its ability to attract and retain workers, especially young people. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is one of only a few states that has more baby boomers living in it than millennials. As the workforce gets older, the younger generation is not large enough to fill the jobs that will be available.

In collaboration with its partners, WMC Foundation has produced the video: Wisconsin – A Great Place to Get Started. This video focuses on Wisconsin’s reality, not its perception. While many startups and millennials look to Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley, Wisconsin can offer the same – if not better – experiences at more affordable prices.

Watch the video here:

“Wisconsin is a great place to live, work and play,” said WMC President/CEO Kurt R. Bauer. “However, Wisconsin cannot grow and prosper the way we need to if the state continues to be the best kept secret in the Midwest. This video demonstrates that Wisconsin is a great place to get started – we just need people to know about it.”