May 3, 2016

St. Elizabeth COPD Program Receives State Recognition


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For more information contact:
Wausau/North Central Wisconsin:
Tom Weaver
Office: 715.843.9094  Mobile: 715.573.8465

(Appleton, WI) — A pro-active management program for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Appleton, has been recognized as the 2016 recipient of the Innovator Award from the Wisconsin Society for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Health & Rehabilitation (WISCPHR).

The Innovator Award acknowledges a program that has enhanced its delivery of care for a patient population, in a unique and creative way, beyond the traditional model of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Created as a joint effort with Network Health, the evidence based "Breathe at Ease" program is designed to help patients improve and better manage chronic lung conditions.

"We are grateful for this recognition from WISCPHR," said St. Elizabeth Respiratory Therapist Robyn West. "This innovative effort is something we are very proud of to provide better quality of care with reduced costs to our patients."

West received the award on behalf of the program at the WISCPHR Annual Conference in Madison on April 23.

Breathe at Ease is provided as a covered service to Network Health Commercial and Medicare Advantage members who have a diagnosis of COPD, Emphysema, or Chronic Bronchitis.

Originally launched in May of 2014, participants in the first year of Breathe at Ease reduced their hospital stays by 75-percent and emergency department visits by 25-percent while indicating a high level of satisfaction with the program which is designed to supplement the patient’s relationship with a primary care clinician.

Today, more than 200 participants are enrolled in the 12 month program that includes an option to be renewed after one year if deemed beneficial to the participant.

West says that self-management is critical to the success of the program. Breathe at Ease respiratory therapists provide education by creating an individualized action plan for COPD management for each participant.

Those action plans are making a difference as more than 85-percent of participants indicated they were adherent with their maintenance inhalers after joining the program with a similar amount adherent with rescue inhalers.

"The action plan makes people more aware of symptoms and how to self-manage in a timely manner," said West. "That is improving their quality of life and reducing costs which helps us achieve the goals of the program."


About Ministry Health Care
Ministry Health Care ( which includes Affinity Health System, is an integrated healthcare delivery network serving more than 1.1 million people across Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota. Ministry generates nearly $2.2 billion in annual operating revenue with 15 hospitals, 46 clinics and 10,000 associates, including 700 physicians and advanced practice clinicians. In 2013, Ministry Health Care joined Ascension, the largest Catholic and not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation. In that same year, Ministry became part of Integrated Health Network (IHN), which represents more than 5,000 physicians, 500 clinics and 42 hospitals in northern, central and eastern Wisconsin. IHN was created to improve the quality, efficiency and value of healthcare services in the markets served by its members.

Ministry is ranked among the top 20 percent of healthcare systems in the country according to Truven Health Analytics, and five Ministry hospitals are ranked in the top 10 in the state in Medicare’s Hospital Value Based Purchasing (VBP) program. Network Health, co-owned by Ministry Health Care and Froedtert Health, has received 4½-star recognition by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its Medicare Advantage plans.

About Ascension
Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 160,000 associates and 36,000 aligned providers serve in 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia as part of Ascension’s Healthcare Division. Through its Solutions Division, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.

About Ascension Wisconsin
Ascension Wisconsin serves millions of people across the state with 24 hospitals and hundreds of sites of care. Approximately 23,500 associates, including nearly 1,000 medical group clinicians work collaboratively to deliver compassionate, personalized care every day. As part of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, in fiscal year 2015, Ascension Wisconsin provided $300 million in community benefit including care of persons living in poverty. 

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