Mind & Spirit

Mercy Walworth Triples to Better Meet the Need

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When it opens this fall, this new medical center and hospital will better serve a variety of emergency and basic care needs for the greater Walworth County area. See what’s inside this impressive new facility.

Construction continues on Mercy Walworth Hospital’s newly expanded medical center, which is expected to be completed this fall. (Rebecca O'Malley photo)

For more than a century, Mercy Health System has risen to meet the challenges of a constantly changing segment of south-central Wisconsin and northern Illinois, by estabishing well-staffed clinics that are strategically located.
“When Mercy Walworth Medical Center opened in 1994, it was a clinic with ambulatory surgery services,” says Javon R. Bea, president and CEO of Mercy Health System. “Then, in 2001, we added an emergency department, making it the first satellite emergency department in Wisconsin.”

In 2005, Bea recognized the need to provide an even higher level of care in the Walworth region. “With the increase in physicians and services we were providing, it was a logical time for us to add hospital beds,” says Bea. “We also renamed the facility Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center.” The facility is located at Highways 50 and 67, in Lake Geneva.

In 2010, Mercy began the current expansion project that will triple the facility’s size and increase the number of patient beds to 25. Bea says the new portions will be open to the public in October. Mercy Health System also operates satellite clinics in the Walworth County communities of Delavan, Lake Geneva and Sharon, which soon will refer more walk-ins and outpatients to the new hospital and medical center.

Jeni Hallatt, director of Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center, says the expansion not only triples the facility’s size, from 60,000 to 200,000 square feet, but also expands healthcare options to a community that Mercy has served for more than 16 years.

“We’re working on the fine details and looking forward to the opening of the new areas in mid-October,” Hallatt says. “Our key focus has always been to bring needed medical service to our communities so they can stay as close to home as possible. While we’ve always had a number of specialty services available, we now have room to offer many more in our expanded medical center and hospital environment – all under one roof, including cardiology, plastic surgery, inpatient laboratory, and labor and delivery. This expansion is in perfect alignment with Mercy Health System’s mission to provide exceptional healthcare services resulting in healing in the broadest sense.”

Through its close association with the community, Mercy Walworth’s expanded programs meet medical needs as well as spiritual and wellness needs.

Ultrasound technician Brianne Weix performs a routine ultrasound on an expectant mother, who is about to discover the baby’s gender. Mercy Walworth’s expansion increases pregnancy care options for local women. (Rebecca O'Malley photo)

“Soothing colors and indirect lighting will offer our patients a calming environment,” says Hallatt. “The new medical center offers a healing garden, a chapel, a lovely courtyard and, on the practical side, more parking with valet and shuttle service, a cafeteria, a community education room, expanded surgical and procedural suites and a sleep disorder lab. We’ve expanded our radiation and emergency capabilities. There’s more of everything the community has looked to us to provide.”

The fusion of function and pleasing atmosphere promises quality experiences not only for patients and their families, but also for the medical professionals working at Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center, Hallatt says.

Dr. Bradley Fideler, orthopedic and sports medicine specialist, has been with Mercy Walworth since it opened its doors as a small clinic 16 years ago.

“We’re truly excited about the changes,” he says. “I’ve been through two expansions since this began as a small outpatient surgery center and clinic. It’s been a fun process to watch it progress from clinic to hospital and medical center. And I believe this is one of those things that happens for a good reason.”

The existing staff has had to work its way through all of the construction phases, but Fideler says it’s been well worth the effort, knowing this is what the Walworth community wants and needs.

“The time is now, and everyone is both excited and pleased,” he says.

Fideler began his practice as Mercy Walworth’s only sports medicine specialist.

“I’ve been busy since the day I started,” he says. “Two years ago, my partner started. We expect the new hospital to add even more patients to our practice. The two of us, plus another sports specialist in Lake Geneva, handle the patient load now, but I expect we’ll add a third doctor in the next four to six years, based on the community’s growth.”

Fideler likes being kept busy and looks forward to the challenges that will naturally come with Mercy Walworth’s expanded medical and surgical capabilities. “This is a great facility located exactly where we need to be to serve the public,” he says. “With the latest state-of-the-art technology and broadened medical services, we’re in a unique position to provide Walworth with the finest possible care.”

For the past four years, Dr. Carol Gilles, OB/GYN, has worked with a growing number of patients. She views the facility expansion as a win-win situation.

“We were already providing digital mammograms,” Gilles says. “Now we’ll be opening a beautiful new family-focused birthing center, with private labor and delivery and recovery rooms. We’ll really be able to provide a home-like feel for new patients.”

Upgraded x-ray and bone density testing technology, and expanded surgical rooms, will save patients travel time to Janesville and other Mercy sites.

“Most routine care will happen right here,” Gilles says. “Our new lab and delivery rooms are adjacent to our offices. No longer will we need to reschedule regular appointments because we need to drive elsewhere to deliver babies.”
The expanded OB/GYN department already staffs two obstetric doctors and three clinic nurses, and more additions are planned.

“Our lactation consultant will continue her services for inpatients as well as outpatients,” Gilles says. “Plus, our rooms are both larger and nicer, as is the waiting lounge. We’ll have surgical rooms that include both vaginal and C-section birth capabilities on-site, which gives us tremendous flexibility in aiding with the birthing process.”

While medical healthcare is Mercy Walworth’s primary focus, public awareness and general well-being are high on Mercy’s list of priorities, too, says Tom Jensen, director of marketing.

“We really emphasize providing screenings, health education and wellness classes,” says Jensen. “One of the nice aspects of the renovation is that we’ll offer bigger and better classrooms for a variety of programs, such as yoga, Tai Chi and self-defense.”

Special programs already introduced to the Walworth community include Women’s Night Out and the Mother-Daughter Breakfast.

“Women’s Night Out happens twice each year,” Jensen explains. “We provide the latest health information and screenings for blood pressure, vision and bone density. We bring in physical and occupational therapists who advise women on safe exercise options. The evening includes dinner and a keynote speaker. It’s a wonderful event for women of any age.”

Dr. Bradley Fideler and RN Marcia Jass assist a patient who’s recovering from a sports injury. The continuous passive motion device on her foot is used for the first phase of rehabilitation after a soft tissue surgical procedure.

Jensen describes the Mother-Daughter Breakfast as a great way for girls ages 10 to 12 to join with their mothers in learning what to expect as they mature.

“Our OB/GYN, pediatric and mental health departments are on hand to offer information and advice,” Jensen says. “It’s one of our most popular events. We’ve scheduled it twice a year, in the past, but may increase the number of sessions.”

Mercy Walworth’s physicians are available for speaking engagements on a wide variety of topics, as requested by the community’s nonprofit organizations, churches and business-based clubs.

“We can either host the meeting or travel to the organization,” Jensen says. “Popular programs include first-aid and safe sitter classes for young baby-sitters and caregivers, and our ThinkFirst program, where kids learn the importance of safety. Our EMTs and emergency staff teach the basics in first aid, such as how to handle choking, cuts, fevers and other essential initial treatments. This has been very popular, and we’re seeing more and more sign-ups.”

Supplemental to this program is Mercy Walworth’s health screening days, a popular event held either at the hospital or at nearby locations.

“We offer many types of screenings, such as cholesterol and vision testing,” Jensen says. “We have a portable bone density machine that measures through the patient’s heel. We can also take our equipment on the road, as requests for our equipment come in.”

Additionally, Mercy Walworth has worked steadily to improve its online resources and contact points. It also works with small businesses, to help them make the best possible use of the Internet’s vast potential.

“We’re much more than just medicine,” Jensen says. “We’re also good neighbors. Our employees and partners volunteer in multiple ways, from helping to teach people with new small businesses how to use the Internet, to helping with the local Girl Scout troops, to helping with the local food pantry during the holiday season.”

Building on a firm foundation of healthcare, wellness, outreach programs and good-neighbor policies, Mercy Health System has 64 facilities located in 24 communities throughout the region. With the expansion of Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center, it once again demonstrates its mission to meet needs within its own communities. ❚

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