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Aurora Health Care's Kradwell School Receives National Planetree Award

Aurora also receives physician, caregiver and pet therapy awards

MILWAUKEE, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Aurora Health Care has received a top national award from the Planetree organization. Aurora was presented with the Planetree Healthy Communities program award for Kradwell School at Planetree's national conference in Chicago today.

Planetree is a nonprofit international organization dedicated to a patient-centered, holistic approach to health care. Their annual awards honor health care systems that live up to those standards of care.

The Healthy Communities Award for Kradwell School is one of 15 awards that Aurora Health Care received at the Planetree conference. Kradwell, which serves K-12 students with behavioral health issues, was selected from organizations across the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. The award honors health systems that work with schools, senior centers, churches and other community partners to redefine health care to include the health and wellness of the larger community.

"Kradwell School fulfills a great need for children who do not succeed in a traditional school environment because of learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders and other issues," said principal Mark Bialzik, who nominated the school for the award. "Our teachers tailor the education to fit the student, and it's amazing to see what they can achieve when provided unique ways to learn and grow."

Kradwell School is on the grounds of Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wis. Aurora provides the staff, infrastructure and support services for the school.

"We are very proud of our caregivers throughout Aurora who daily demonstrate compassion, skill and innovation when caring for our patients," said Nick Turkal, president and CEO of Aurora Health Care. "To have so many caregivers honored for this work is inspiring and rewarding."

"Aurora has been a pioneer in Wisconsin when it comes to incorporating the patient and family centered principles of care in facilities. The national recognition reinforces our commitment to ensure individuals who rely on Aurora for their health and wellness services are part of a unique experience that positively impacts their care and recovery," Turkal added.

In addition to the Healthy Communities Award, Aurora received Spirit of Planetree awards in the categories of Physician Champion, Caregiver and Therapy Animal.

The Physician Champion Award recognizes those who support the Planetree model of patient-centered care and is a role model for medical staff members. The Aurora Health Care winners are:

Dr. Krishna Neni, a popular Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center physician, who will receive the award posthumously. Dr. Neni died after a car accident in November 2007. His spirit of caring, however, lives on, because families felt he truly cared for them. "His death devastated this community of healers who were so profoundly moved by his presence -- a brilliant blend of wisdom, skill, kindness, and generosity," his nomination said.

Santosh Krishnan, M.D., a thoracic surgeon at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, is known for his dedication to patients. One patient's daughter said, "After my dad's surgery, he listened carefully to us and took all the time we needed to answer our questions. I know he did everything he could for my dad, and I could tell that he genuinely cared about him as a person."

Jeffery Jordan, M.D., is associate program director for Aurora's internal medicine residency program at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Jordan frequently recommends improvements to simplify systems for patients and caregivers to provide the best care that is designed around their needs as well as their safety.

Michael Post, M.D., of Aurora Medical Group in Marinette, is a member of the Marinette Planetree steering committee. His leadership has inspired teams, caregivers, leaders and providers to embrace patient-centered care initiatives with creativity, enthusiasm, and most importantly -- compassion.

The Caregiver Award recognizes that each employee is a caregiver with a unique opportunity to positively impact the way health care is delivered.

Aurora Health Care winners are:

Laura Kolp, a recreational therapist on the Acute Care for the Elderly Unit at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, coordinates animals, was instrumental in developing a music therapy program as well as an arts healing program, which allows a certified art therapist to work with patients.

Beverly Westphal, an environmental services worker on the Intensive Care Unit at Aurora Medical Center-Oshkosh, greets each day with enthusiasm and pride in her work and provides each patient daily with an inspiration quote written on a card. Passionate in making patients feel special, Westphal treats each patient as her own.

Cindy Jones, manager of food and environmental services at Aurora Medical Center -- Manitowoc County, created room service for all patients, Healthy Wednesdays in the cafeteria, full-color picture menus for patients unable to read and most recently joined the pet therapy team with her dog, Tess.

Sean DeWane, a staff action coordinator at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, worked with other caregivers, local fabric stores and volunteers to create fleece blankets given to all breast cancer surgery patients before surgery, so they can wake up snuggled in a blanket.

Kathy McCann, a clinic application system specialist for Washington County based at Aurora Health Center in Slinger, supports three clinics. She recognizes her role in delivering quality, comprehensive care for patients by addressing staff and physicians concerns promptly and thoroughly.

Rachel Roesler, R.N., in the neonatal intensive care unit at Aurora Sinai Medial Center, coordinates the unit's Christmas meal, inviting patients' families, ordering and delivering the meal, and transforming the NICU classroom into Santa's workshop. She also leads the unit's "adopt a class" project, which collected more than $650 for student supplies.

Pet Therapy Winners

Animals can have a wonderfully positive impact on patients, families and caregivers. The Therapy Animal Award is given to an animal and handler from each Planetree affiliate site. Aurora's winners are:

Nike and owner Kay Detempel of Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, have been an active part of Aurora BayCare's pet therapy program for three years. Detempel and her Sheltie touch the lives of patients, visitors and staff on a weekly basis.

Benny and Kari Schmidt make Aurora West Allis Medical Center Hospital a brighter place. Schmidt and Benny, a 2-year-old black Lab mix, spend Saturday mornings visiting patients in rehabilitation therapy. Benny helps staff work with patients on activities from dexterity to basic motor skills.

Mary Jo Cardenas, a nurse at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, Milwaukee, adopted Wilson when he was a scared, homeless puppy. They earned handler/pet team accreditation through Pets Helping People, and now the dog is helping patients through difficult recoveries.

Walker and Stephanie Wojtowicz visit Aurora Medical Center of Washington County several times a month and they manage to see almost every patient by the time they are done. Walker is also a favorite guest at staff retreats because of his loving nature.

About the Planetree Model

Since it was founded as a nonprofit organization, Planetree has pioneered methods for personalizing, humanizing and demystifying the healthcare experience for patients and their families. The Planetree model of care is a patient-centered, holistic approach to healthcare, promoting mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and physical healing. It empowers patients and families through the exchange of information and encourages healing partnerships with caregivers. It seeks to maximize positive health care outcomes by integrating optimal medical therapies and incorporating art and nature into the healing environment.

About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

SOURCE Aurora Health Care
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