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Winter 2014

Personalized Care


Bill Calhoun

“Let’s talk about it” – a phrase we say to a family member or friend when something serious needs to be addressed. Well, we want to have a frank conversation with you. There’s a pressing matter in our community that can no longer be ignored: mental health. So often we limit the ways we think and talk about health. We have no problem talking about the cause and effect of cancer and chronic diseases like diabetes, yet for some reason we struggle to acknowledge disorders that affect the brain, such as depression, anxiety, post-partum depression, bipolar and others. There is a crushing stigma associated with mental illnesses; so much so that many people feel reluctant to talk openly or seek help, which causes a great deal of shame and blame. Just like with other illnesses, education and understanding is the key to good, healthy outcomes – as are plans of care, recovery and treatment. So why is mental health looked at differently? Not only are we up against a stigmatization of mental illness, but our country is facing a problem with access to mental health care providers and services. The Fox Valley is no exception, even though many have taken a hard look at what we can do to improve the mental well-being of our community. Take for instance two years ago when Affinity, ThedaCare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin partnered

ABOUT THE COVER Waupaca teen Braxton Verner has bipolar disorder, but he also has raw talent. Art gives him a reason to focus, an outlet for his frustration, and something to be proud of. Research indicates that bipolar affects the brain differently in the way it sends communications and processes information. In most cases, that translates into creativity. History has been shaped by the creativity of individuals with bipolar disorder, such as Vincent Van Gough, Virginia Woolf and Martin Luther King Jr. “The good part of bipolar is that I’m very creative,” Braxton says. “I do many things that no one else can. Everyone has their specials. Bipolar is my special. It has created me today.” Turn to page 10 to read Braxton’s story about living with mental illness.

to form Catalpa Health – an outpatient behavioral health service for children, adolescents and families in the Fox Valley that opened in November 2012. Turn to page 8 to read more about mental health, what organizations are doing to help, and how we can change our way of thinking. Can you imagine if we invested as much and worked equally as hard to raise awareness about bipolar disorder or depression as we do for breast cancer or heart disease? This issue of @Affinity is dedicated to this need in our community. Two brave individuals – Braxton, 13, and Leslie, 37 – share their stories with you starting on page 10. We stand with them as they gallantly buck the blame and persuade you to think about mental illness differently. Start a dialogue. Be candid. Don’t let fear stand in the way of being your true self and let’s end the silence surrounding mental health. Let’s talk about it. Sincerely,

Bill Calhoun President and Regional Vice President Affinity Health System/Ministry Health Care

Mood Survey

Do you wonder if you might suffer from depression, anxiety or another mental disorder? We urge you to take this free and anonymous mood survey to find out whether or not professional consultation would be helpful to you. This screening is not a substitute for a complete mental health evaluation. To get started, go to screening/NEW.

AFFINITY HEALTH SYSTEM IS... • St. Elizabeth Hospital ‑ Appleton • Mercy Medical Center ‑ Oshkosh • Calumet Medical Center ‑ Chilton • Affinity Medical Group Clinics • Affinity Occupational Health For a complete list of Affinity clinic locations or to find a physician, go to our website at or call Affinity NurseDirect at 1.800.362.9900. yh it in ff .a w w w : og bl r Ou Follow us:

c o n t e n t s WINTER 2014

Affinity Health System Menasha, WI President and Regional Vice President, Affinity Health System/Ministry Health Care Bill Calhoun, FACHE Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer, Ministry Health Care Vince Gallucci Editorial Management Jennifer Wagner Mauk John Egan Alison Fiebig Mayer


 eing Braxton B The ever-changing hormones of a teenager promise plenty of ups and downs, but for 13-year-old Braxton Verner, the sheer number of ups and downs are caused by bipolar disorder, with moods so deep and feelings so intense that he’s either hysterically happy or fiercely upset. Read about his struggles and successes, including how mental illness has given him the courage to create art for all to see.

Volume 3, Number 3 The material in @Affinity is not intended for diagnosing or prescribing. Consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.

 ew Beginnings N After living more than 30 years with repressed memories of gruesome events, Leslie Raddatz has the gumption to get the help and counseling she needs to overcome flashbacks due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For the last two years, Leslie has worked tirelessly to reprocess them all one by one and start anew. Learn about the symptoms of PTSD and how Leslie shed the shame and stigma associated with mental illness.

@Affinity is published four times annually by Affinity Health System. For permission to reprint any portion of this magazine, change your address, discontinue multiple copies or stop receiving @Affinity, please contact us at © 2014 Affinity Health System. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from Affinity Health System.

Mission, Promise, Vision and Values At Affinity Health System, our mission guides our actions. Mission Our mission as a Catholic healthcare system is to further the healing ministry of Jesus by continually improving the health and well-being of all people, especially the poor, in the communities we serve.

Promise We promise to provide personalized care by listening, treating you with respect and putting your needs and interests first.

15 Photographs by Shane Van Boxtel, Image Studios

Cover illustration by Braxton LeRoy Verner




4 Beyond the Baby Blues

 The signs and symptoms of post-

partum depression, and why it’s OK to talk about it

BY TH E N UMBE R S 5 Organs, spuds and heart disease C H EW O N TH I S 6 Root vegetable recipe, plus tips on visualizing portions


18 An Open Book

A  passion-turned-pen-name for one Affinity psychiatrist

LET ’S TALK ABO UT I T GI VI N G BAC K 8 There’s a saying, “There is no health 20 Duty Calls without mental health,” but do we really understand the impact mental illness has on quality-of-life? We’re starting the conversation

Three Calumet Medical Center

employees find a second family in the Chilton Fire Department


22 Living Well with Chronic

Vision Healthcare that works. Healthcare that is safe. Healthcare that leaves no one behind!

Values The way we accomplish our mission is as important as the mission itself. These values of our sponsor, Ministry Health Care, guide our actions.

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A class empowering patients on their personal health journey, and the annual healthy living cooking class


23 Draw how you see yourself and


send in the portrait for a chance to win a customized art kit Winter 2014





Beyond the Baby Blues Seeking help for post-partum depression


Healthcare Reform Cliffs Notes What does it all mean?



ou painted the nursery, chose the perfect name and spent hours pouring over childbirth books and pregnancy blogs. You endured the challenges of labor and finally held that precious baby in your arms. Welcome to the joys of motherhood! But what if you’re not feeling so joyful? The books didn’t prepare you for that. Is it baby blues or something more? “As soon as a new mom comes home from the hospital, it’s normal to experience crying spells, mild sadness, fatigue or anxiety. She just may not feel like herself,” says Tracy Longtine, a therapist with Affinity Behavioral Health in Appleton. These “baby blues” are normal and should go away after a couple of weeks. If they persist and get worse, it could be post-partum depression. WHAT IS POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION? “Post-partum depression is a significant feeling of despair, severe anxiety or helplessness that gets in the way of daily life,” Tracy says. Symptoms may include agitation, a change in appetite, feeling worthless, guilty, or inadequate as a mom. A woman may feel withdrawn from people, have trouble concentrating, or lack enjoyment in regular activities, especially her parenting duties. WHAT CAUSES IT? Several factors may contribute to a new mom’s depression, including hormones and sudden lifestyle changes. “There’s never just one trigger,” Tracy says. 4 | @Affinity

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“As soon as a new mom comes home from the hospital, it’s normal to experience crying spells, mild sadness, fatigue or anxiety. She may not feel like herself.” Tracy Longtine, therapist, Affinity Behavioral Health

“Lack of sleep, worrying about your ability to be a mom, having less time and less freedom to do anything for you, changes in your relationship with your husband or friends, self-image concerns – they all start the ball rolling.” Tracy encourages women to realize they are not weak or alone. Post-partum depression is a common condition and help is available. WHEN SHOULD I CALL FOR HELP? Post-partum depression can occur soon after a woman delivers all the way up to baby’s first birthday. Typically, though, symptoms set in about three months after delivery. In rare cases, a woman may have thoughts of harming her baby or even suicide. “Call any provider you trust—don’t delay,” Tracy says. Your primary care doctor, OB physician or pediatrician can refer you to a qualified, compassionate counselor. Or you can call Affinity NurseDirect at 800.362.9900. “There’s never a time that’s too soon to seek help,” Tracy says. “Even during the baby blues, just having somebody to talk to will help. You can get through it much quicker and actually enjoy being a new mom.”

hen it comes to healthcare reform, there’s a lot to understand, but take a deep breath. Karla Ashenhurst’s job is to help alleviate anxiety and calm the chaos. As the system advocacy and public policy director for Ministry Health Care, which includes Affinity Health System (AHS), Ashenhurst spends her days managing the facts and educating people on the new law. As of December 1, 2013, the federal website was back up and running. The number of people who enrolled within the first week of December was more than the number of those who registered in October alone. “You can sign up until enrollment closes on March 31,” she says. “Everyone is hyped up about the exchange enrollment, but the reality is, less than 10 percent of Wisconsin actually needs to sign up for coverage in the exchange.” She adds that the exchange is not for everyone. Its for someone who doesn’t have another option, such as Medicare, Medicaid, employersponsored insurance, or if you’re 400 percent under the poverty level. “People are enrolling,” Ashenhurst says of the federal website. "I'm very proud of our mission to connect people with access to coverage." If you or someone you know is seeking coverage and needs to enroll with the exchange, AHS has certified application counselors who can assist and are available by appointment. Please call your primary care clinic for more details. To enroll without assistance, visit the federal site:

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650 muscles

total, 43 of which are in the face - your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, which will help change your mood, even if you force it!

7,500 named

parts of the human body

numbers The majority of snowflakes have 6 sides and no snowflakes are the same.

1 organ is the


biggest: the brain

206 bones

13 major organ systems in the human body

42 billion blood vessels - if we were to put them all end-

to-end, it would stretch about 99,419 miles – 4 times around the Earth’s equator, or almost half way to the moon

-30 The coldest temperature on record in Wisconsin was last January 4, 2013 in Upson (in Iron County).

25 seconds


of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack.

Every , an American will have a coronary event, and every minute, someone will die of one. Watch for these early symptoms of a heart attack: pain that travels down one or both arms, shortness of breath; back pain; chest pain, such as burning, squeezing, tightness or discomfort; feeling of fullness; anxiety; fatigue; jaw pain; or nausea.

3 6 0 0 0 0 The average American eats of potatoes per year. That’s a lot of spuds! Turn the page for a wintertime recipe that uses root vegetables.

126 pounds

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The number of people who will suffer from cardiac arrest this year. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, at any age. Take a preventive stance on heart disease and give a nod to American Heart Month in February by reviewing the ABCS in a move toward prevention: Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin every day; find out if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, and if you do, get effective treatment; and if you smoke, get help to quit.

Winter 2014



chew on this

Feed the Mind Root Vegetable


BY MARILYN DANZ, registered dietitian, Affinity Behavioral Health


ave you ever been so stressed that you become fatigued? The brain and gut have a close relationship, and nutrition is a key component to good mental health. Simple dietary changes may boost brain function and reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. These foods can contribute to a sharp mind: • Nuts boast high levels of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. It’s no wonder walnuts look like the brain! They contain the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds contain a natural form of the same drugs that treat Alzheimer’s disease. And let’s not leave out pecans, which lead the group in antioxidants. While they all contain wonderful benefits, remember to eat a variety and in moderation (about ¼ cup is a serving size). • Whole grains provide energy, and enriched grains have the added benefit of providing vitamins B6 and B12, which are considered to be stressfighting vitamins. Contrary to the common belief that sugar causes hyperactivity, high levels of simple sugars and candy result in fatigue and depression. • Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. Eating a rainbow of colors every day is recommended. Each color grouping of fruits and vegetables target different cells. Blue- and purplecolored fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins, which have been shown to boost levels of brain chemicals that influence memory and learning. Eating a variety of blueberries, blackberries, concord grapes, eggplant, plums, purple asparagus and raisins can promote a healthy mind. • Fish contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are essential for optimal development and functioning of the brain and eyes. It is recommended to have 8-12 oz. of fish a week, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout and sardines. • Cook with extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in phenolic compounds. Not found in vegetable oils, phenols have long been known to protect the heart, and a healthy heart contributes to a healthy mind! We know these anti-inflammatory properties protect tissue throughout the body, including the brain, and reduce depression. 6 | @Affinity

Winter 2 014


oot vegetables grow under the ground where they are able to absorb high amounts of minerals from the soil. They also absorb important nutrients from the sun through their leaves. High in fiber and low in fat and calories, root veggies will not only improve your physical well-being, but also improve your mental health. This is due to their high amounts of antioxidants, which help break down harmful toxins in the body that can leave you feeling sick. Add these root vegetables to your shopping list: carrots, beets, rutabaga, potatoes, celery root, radishes, garlic and onions.


Portion cheat sheet • Medium potato = computer mouse • Bagel = hockey puck • 1 cup of fruit = baseball • 3 oz. meat = deck of cards • 3 oz. fish = checkbook • 1 oz. cheese = 4 dice • 1 teaspoon of peanut butter = tip of your thumb • 1 cup ice cream/yogurt/veggies = tennis ball Watch Chef Tracy cook up light, local and seasonal food at Calumet Medical Center’s Healthy Living Cooking event on April 21. Turn to page 22 for details!

Root Vegetable Ragout on Ham Braised Greens Recipe by Chef Tracy Darling at Village Hearthstone in Hilbert Root Vegetable Ragout

6 c ups assorted root vegetables in bite size chunks (such as squash, carrots, celery root, potatoes, turnips, parsnips or rutabagas) 4 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt 6 whole garlic cloves 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, very finely chopped 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped 1/2 cup water or chicken stock Ham Braised Greens

2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil 1 large yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cup) 1 teaspoon minced garlic 2 lbs. assorted sturdy greens (such as kale, chard or beet; remove the thickest part of the stems) 8 oz. lean smoked ham, cut in chunks 2 cups organic chicken stock Sea salt to taste Reduced balsamic vinegar to drizzle For the ragout: Toss vegetables and garlic cloves with olive oil, herbs and salt. Place in heavy baking dish and add water. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until tender but still holding their shape. Cook time will vary by the type of baking dish you are using. When done, add sea salt if needed. Set aside. For the greens: Bring an extra-large pot of salted water to a boil. When water boils, add greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes, drain well and set aside. Place ham and onions in medium-sized stock pot and cook until softened (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and cook one minute. Add drained greens and stir to coat well. Add chicken stock to just cover greens and let cook until liquid is mostly reduced and greens are very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.   To serve: Mound greens on a platter and place vegetable ragout in the center. The braising liquid can be reduced and poured over the vegetables. Drizzle balsamic vinegar in a zigzag across the platter.   Note from Chef Tracy: Ragout refers to a main dish stew, generally cooked in liquid. Ragout is derived from a word meaning “to revive the taste,” which also means it’s good reheated and can be eaten for days!

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Rooted in Comfort BY HANNAH DARLING


hen we think of wintertime recipes, images of heavy, rich and creamy dishes dance in our mind’s eye. Often abandoned in the summer, the stove welcomes us back during our coldest season. While feelgood meals warm us up and provide comfort on a snowy day, the majority aren’t exactly nutrient-rich superfoods. For a well-balanced, cold-weather dish, try this recipe for Root Vegetable Ragout on Ham Braised Greens by Chef Tracy Darling of the Village Hearthstone Restaurant in Hilbert. This delicious ragout is rich with vitamins and is as satisfying as it is nutritious.

Studies have shown root vegetables reduce our risk of cancer, help us absorb iron, and increase our exercise stamina. Not only are they available in winter when other vegetables are hard to find, but they are also inexpensive. Take a look at the benefits of these tubers: • Squash: A member of the gourd family, squash is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. It provides a great dose of fiber, putting itself in the heartfriendly category. As for the gorgeous orange hue? It calls to the abundance of carotenoids, powerhouse nutrients that combat heart disease. • Turnips: This unsuspecting little potato look-alike contains vitamins C, B and B6. Those B vitamins are essential to aid in carbohydrate and protein metabolism, a healthy nervous system and liver, and beautiful, glowing skin and hair. • Parsnips: Here’s another surprise. Parsnips are full of potassium. Both a mineral and an electrolyte, potassium is essential for cardiac, skeletal and muscle function. Parsnips are an effective combatant against high blood pressure and stroke. These benefits are just the start. A recipe such as this root vegetable ragout is the perfect way to introduce a heart-friendly option into your meal routine during the winter months. And with the beautiful colors of carrots, squash, and parsnips, this dish just may become a seasonal favorite for you and your family. w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

Winter 2014





T SEEMS WE’RE CONSTANTLY REMINDED TO BE PROACTIVE IN OUR HEALTHCARE, but how many of those conversations are swaying us to take a good, hard look at the health of our mind? Mental illness is one of the most misunderstood health issues today. It can affect anyone, at any time, regardless of age, race, gender, education or socioeconomic situation. We have all heard about having “the blues,” but how often are we considering the more serious illness of the brain? Our mind is the master of all the actions and organs of a human body. We must care for the brain just as much as we care for other life-depending organs.


> 1 in 4 coworkers. 1 in 4 family members. 1 in 4 friends. >D  epression is the leading cause of disability for Americans ages 15 to 44.

> An estimated 26.2% of adults ages 18 and over have some sort of

mental health issue. That’s more than a quarter of the entire adult population. > Approximately 20% of youth ages 13-18 experience a severe mental disorder in a given year. > Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15-24. More than 90% of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders. (Source : NAMI and National Institutes of Health)

“Our brain (mental health) is not separate from our body (physical health). By shifting the paradigm to fully recognize mental illness as a medical condition, we move from a place of shame and blame to a place of hope and help.” — Beth Clay, executive director, NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Fox Valley

“The way we change how we think about mental health is by acknowledging that the brain, where mental health lives, is a part of our physical body. Our fear of the unknown and difficulty in explaining and believing things we can’t see often times stops us from trying.” — Sarah Bassing-Sutton, The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley, Inc.


Results from the 2011 LIFE Study, conducted by United Way Fox Cities, revealed alarming statistics about the mental health of our community. This inspired a group of individuals from health systems, including Affinity, and mental health organizations, to hold a summit and discuss how stakeholders and resources can better align to improve outcomes. The group later became the N.E.W. (Northeast Wisconsin) Mental Health Connection and have been working to enhance access to mental health services in the Fox Cities and improve navigation of those services. To learn more about the initiatives, partnerships and mission of the coalition, visit

IN THE CLINIC Your primary care provider (PCP) partners with team members to help coordinate and deliver various aspects of your care in what’s known as the Affinity Medical Home. One of those team members is a behavioral health care coordinator, like Tina Kohls-Wankey who works at the Affinity Medical Group clinic on Koeller Street in Oshkosh. As a licensed clinical social worker, she is skilled in having a dialogue with individuals who struggle to overcome barriers in mental health. Her job within the Medical Home is to see patients who have mental health issues or may have hit a roadblock in their plan of care for managing a chronic disease, such as diabetes or hypertension. If someone has difficulty sticking to a new regimen or changes in routine, their PCP refers them to Kohls-Wankey who can help the patient get to the root of the issue. “People come to me with things, such as depression, anxiety and adjustment issues,” she says. “Together, we dig deep to find the reasons why they aren’t able to stick to a care plan. It’s really about getting them to understand their behavior and how it’s influencing their mental health.” Having a behavioral health care coordinator within the Medical Home means they are connected to the rest of the care team – literally within feet from the patients’ doctors and nurses in case they need to circle back with questions about medical care or medications. “There’s a lot that goes into accepting a diagnosis,” Kohls-Wankey adds. “We all work together to make the process easier and address any other issues going on in their life.” If you’re wondering if there’s a behavioral health care coordinator in your Medical Home, be sure to ask your provider the next time you visit.

8 | @Affinity

Winter 2 014

Tina KohlsWankey, behavioral health care coordinator

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— Lisa Kogan-Praska, president/CEO, Catalpa Health

WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS? A mental illness is a

medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Mental health is determined by genes, biology, personality, social development, environment, relationships, and and other circumstances. The four main categories of mental illnesses are: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders and thought disorders. (wor ld he a lt h orga niz ation)

With proper treatment - which typically includes a combination of medication, therapy and social or peer support - between of people can experience recovery or a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life.


“Continuing the public dialogue around access to mental health services, suicide prevention, the impact that mental health issues have on the patient, family, work and the community as a whole helps all become more comfortable talking openly with each other about mental health issues.” — Larry Donatelle, vice president of medical affairs, Affinity Health System

STIGMA stig•ma noun \'stig-m \ e

“We need to view mental health as a lifelong journey with different stages. And, as with any lifelong journey, there may be times when help is needed. Remember that mental health is a part of life, a part of you, a part of health.”

a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person; refers to a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, shame, reject, avoid, shun and discriminate against people with mental illness; involves the labeling and stereotyping of persons living with mental illness as being “different” or having “undesirable” characteristics. Think of it this way: Your friend might be quick to announce on Facebook that their child was diagnosed with diabetes, but no one is rushing to post about their loved one who tried to commit suicide because they’re struggling with mental illness. Why the stigma? Many Fox Valley organizations, including Affinity Health System, are working tirelessly to break down the barriers by collaborating with other service providers on messaging, mission and care.

“You don’t look sick.” There is a fierce stigma associated with mental illness, which prevents many from seeking diagnosis and treatment. One study found that only 25 percent of adults with mental illness believe people are caring and sympathetic to persons with mental illness.

YOUTH MATTERS > 2 1% > 14% > 12% > 10%

Every 5 years, the Fox Cities hosts a community assessment. The results of the 2011 LIFE Study were alarming:  of students reported feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing usual activities reported having seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months

had made a plan for suicide

DO YOU ...

worry to the point of panic attacks? Do you become excessively fearful of things or situations that may not seem scary to others? Do you feel depressed? Do you have irrational fears keeping you from leaving your house or holding a job? These are signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression and mood or personality disorders, such as bipolar or schizophrenia – all of which are considered mental illnesses, and they are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease. If you, a family member or friend are in need mental health services, dial 2-1-1 (or 800.924.5514) and speak to a certified information and referral specialist. United Way 2-1-1 is a free and confidential community database that consists of health and human service providers, nonprofits, educational programs, clubs and community groups, and local, city and county services. For more information on Affinity Behavioral Health services, visit, click on ‘Services’ and then ‘Behavioral Health.’ w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

had attempted suicide within the past 12 months

Two programs in the Fox Valley are making it easier for local youth to seek help if they’re in need:

>U  nited Way’s PATH Program* (which stands for “Providing Access

To Healing”) was created in 2008 in response to a demand for mental health services in the Fox Cities. The school-based program is now in 13 schools in the Fox Valley and is improving access to services for children and youth who are unable to obtain care elsewhere in the community. To read more, visit

> Th  e Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley administers

TeenScreen* to ninth graders – a voluntary questionnaire that both parents and students must consent to taking, which helps determine if the struggles teens are facing are typical or something more serious. By identifying depression, anxiety and substance abuse issues, TeenScreen gives parents the chance to help teens before emotional needs become severe or even life-threatening. To learn more about the benefits of the screening, go to

* These programs are supported by Affinity Health System and many others in the community.

Winter 2014



Face-to-Face with Mental Illness

L i f e f o r a Wa u p a c a



o n

teen who has bipolar disorder

a dime.


Winter 2014



| 11

Mental Illness

H E K I TC H E N TA B L E T R E M B L E S beneath Braxton LeRoy Verner’s spiral sketchbook. He is fixated on the drawing before him, shading in what will soon become a nose on a face. Unless he decides midsketch that it's no good. The two drawings before this one are crumpled balls on the floor. He lifts his head a few inches and brings his hands to his face. Examining his progress, the boy leaves behind smudges of charcoal on his cheeks and chin as his hands return to the sketch. The 13-year-old isn’t having a good week, though you wouldn’t know it. It's a mid-November day and Braxton is chatty, even flashing the occasional smile. His mom, Melissa, shares that Braxton recently learned the concept of a joke. He lets out a giggle before reciting one of his favorites. “Why is six afraid of seven?” he asks. Melissa asks why, as if she’s never heard this one before. “Because seven ate nine!” he answers. He barely finishes the delivery before letting out a loud chuckle and flailing his hands around his face. Melissa lovingly reaches over to touch his head and give his hair a ruffle. “When he gets excited, he flaps his hands up and down really fast like he’s flying away,” Melissa says. “This is the fun Braxton.” These are the times you wouldn’t know that Braxton suffers from bipolar disorder. But just a few days prior, Braxton slept outside in the backyard in frigid temperatures. He doesn’t remember getting there. Nor does he remember the times he ran into oncoming traffic. Or attempted another method of self-harm. Or the times he threatened to hurt his mom or sisters.

LeRoy the Mystery Boy

“I don’t know why I do it,” he says, referring to his violent rages. Yet he knows he has bipolar disorder. In fact, he gave himself a nickname after accepting the disorder early this year: LeRoy the Mystery Boy. “I feel a lot of the time that my life is a mystery,” Braxton adds. “When I get upset, it just happens.” Braxton was almost four years old when Melissa noticed there was something off about his behavior. Her first-born was throwing what she considered to be abnormal temper tantrums: ripping bedding, pulling out dresser drawers, hitting, kicking, biting, and breaking things. Living in Michigan at the time, she took Braxton to see a pediatrician who said his outbursts were aggravated by his environment at home. “We were told we needed to be better parents,” Melissa remembers. “They had us live on a concrete routine – a schedule we followed religiously, thinking it would help provide positive structure for Braxton.” He didn’t qualify for inpatient treatment at the time, but Melissa enrolled him in an outpatient behavioral program. Sitting in the front window at Little Fat Gretchen’s café downtown Waupaca, Braxton sketches with charcoal. Six of his art pieces will be on display through February 15 at the Waupaca Library’s Creative Power: VSA Wisconsin's Traveling Exhibition, which is comprised of 30 framed, two- and threedimensional works of art by Wisconsin youth and adults with disabilities.

In 2008, when Braxton was eight years old, Melissa and her husband, Patrick, moved to the Fox Valley. Braxton continued to experience rapid mood swings, irritability and high levels of anxiety. He would hit others, throw things, swear, scream, and make inappropriate gestures. “Sometimes I see a sign that he is on the brink of a meltdown, such as clenched fists, heavy rapid breathing or a certain look in his eyes,” Melissa explains. “If we can catch him before he reaches the state of rage, we can usually give him choices of what is safe to do and help him calm down. Other times, there are no warning signs at all and it just happens.” Help and understanding was hard to come by. The school Braxton was attending didn’t recognize his outbursts for what they were – moments of psychosis, where an individual experiences a loss of contact with reality by means of hallucinations (such as hearing voices) or delusions. Instead, staff at the school thought he was acting out for other reasons that could be resolved. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding put Braxton at a disadvantage. It got to the point where he wasn’t able to stay in the classroom and fell behind in schoolwork. “He’s your typical child some days,” Melissa explains. “Then there are days where he’s so overly happy, excited and wound up that you wish you could turn him down a notch, but you can’t. Other days, he’ll be scatter-brained, not able to focus. Then there are the days where he’s sad. And there are days when he’s both.” Braxton compares his life to the ups and downs of a roller coaster: happy and jolly, then angry and sad. Next comes destruction. Then he’s depressed and doesn’t want to leave his room, followed by feelings of not wanting to live. After that, he’s emotional, mopey and maybe cries. In March 2009, he started seeing Dr. Mark Rovick, psychiatrist at what was previously Fox Valley Mental Health Clinic in Menasha. The clinic was replaced by Catalpa Health, which was founded in February 2012. “When I first saw him, he was shy, hesitant, and his speech was pretty difficult to understand,” Dr. Rovick shares. “My suspicion was more along the lines of an autistic disorder.” That changed when Braxton’s aggression escalated. In October 2011, he was admitted to St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit for crisis intervention. “He had really regressed,” Dr. Rovick remembers. “I wrote down a quote that Melissa told me he was repeating at the time: ‘me tired.’ He repeated that phrase over and over again. The words weren’t as important so much as out of character for his age. He was 11 ½ at that point, but he was speaking like he was three years old.” Dr. Rovick explains that a child’s language and behavior regresses when they are going through a severe stressor. During this time, Braxton also made odd, suicidal gestures, such as drinking cleaning fluid but immediately telling Melissa afterward. “He wasn’t necessarily suicidal; he just didn’t know how to express himself,” Dr. Rovick adds. “There were many cycles and swings of his mood or energy at the same time. First there were the ‘me tired’ comments, then he’d be hyper and his mind would be racing. Other times, he was glassy-eyed and emotionless.”

Tailored Treatment

After evaluation, Braxton was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, expressive and receptive language disorder, a speech articulation disorder, and cognitive disorder. Dr. Rovick reports that Braxton’s moods cycle dramatically for days, sometimes weeks, leaving him to w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

experience two intense emotional states called mania and depression. These states differ from the normal ups and downs that people who don’t have bipolar experience. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that more than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder. “It’s much more than just environmental stressors,” Dr. Rovick says, referring to loud noises, crowds, intense temperatures or other elements of the environment that give rise to anti-social behavior by increasing arousal, which may produce negative emotions and aggressive behavior. Braxton also struggles with cognitive behaviors, meaning he has trouble learning. “Some kids do really well in math, but not so much in reading,” he says. “We can all accept that. Sometimes that struggle is so severe that it’s a significant difficulty for someone. Braxton falls on the lower end of that spectrum for certain skills.” This complicated things at school. Braxton’s violent behavior continued to confuse staff at his school and local law enforcement. While in crisis mode, he often overpowered Melissa when she would try to restrain him. Because of this, Melissa would call the police for help. In May 2012, when Braxton was at an after-school program when he suddenly got away fmor one of the workers and ran into oncoming traffic. The staff called for police assistance, and because Braxton was in the middle of the road wanting to get hit by a car – and almost did – he was taken to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for five weeks. Melissa was only able to see him once a week while he was there for evaluation. That was the last time he was hospitalized. “Bipolar makes your brain go loony,” Braxton explains. “I don’t know when it will come. There is no trigger, it just happens. One moment, I’m very happy… manic. And then the rest of my body is hyper, anxious, like go, go, go, go. Next, I’m very sad. I can get angry quickly. Little things can bother me so quickly. It feels like I’m so different. It’s haunting, then it stops haunting, then it’s haunting again.” Shortly after the episode resulting in Braxton's stay at the county facility, the Verners moved to Waupaca. They were drawn to the smalltown, resort-like feel of the community and thought it might be a better place to raise Braxton and their two daughters. But after several outbursts at his new school, Melissa decided the best choice for Braxton was home-schooling. She can closely monitor him throughout the day, schedule breaks as needed, and alter lessons if Braxton isn't having a good day.

Glossary of Terms Psychosis – considered to be a symptom of mental health, psychosis is the experience of loss of contact with reality, typically involving hallucinations (unusual experiences such as hearing voices) and/or delusions (fixed unusual beliefs). It can often be the precursor to a developing mental illness or the onset of one. Crisis mode – refers not necessarily to a traumatic situation or event, but to a person’s reaction to an event. One person might be deeply affected by an event, while another individual suffers little or no ill effects. It can range in type and severity. Bipolar disorder – a chronic illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to several months. It causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mod, energy and the ability to think clearly. Cycles of high (manic) and low (depressive) moods may follow an irregular pattern that differs from the typical ups and downs experienced by most people. Manic episode – an emotionally-extreme state of mind a person experiences with having a mood disorder, like bipolar, in which there is an abnormally elevated mood for an extended amount of time. Some symptoms include: amazingly happy or high; irritability; restlessness; excessive energy; theatrical behavior; psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations, delusions or paranoia; decreased need for sleep; or racing thoughts. Depressive episode – a person who suffers from a mood disorder, like bipolar, also experiences a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities that affects social, emotional or other important functions. This can last for weeks at a time and cause fatigue, deep feelings of sadness and worthlessness – even thoughts of suicide.

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Mental Illness

“There are some days we can do school work for six and a half hours,” she says. “Other days, he’s so focused he does school work in two or three hours.” Braxton continues to work on developing coping skills with Dr. Rovick, who sees the teen every three months or so. “His intense episodes come in waves,” Dr. Rovick explains. “He’ll be stable for a couple of months. Then – like most people who have bipolar – we have to make adjustments at the turn of the seasons in the fall and spring.” These adjustments refer to the medications Braxton is taking. He’s currently prescribed lithium, which requires close monitoring, and a few others that help stabilize Braxton's mood. Dr. Rovick also watches for potential side effects like weight gain. “We diagnose our patients and use medications, but ultimately our goal is to normalize kids and get them back on their normal trajectory,” he says about his role as psychiatrist. “The hope is we can get them off medications.” After checking in on the medical aspects, Dr. Rovick invites Braxton to sit down and play Legos or with mobile, clay figures and talk about life, his dog or his art. This is how he works to form and keep what he calls “therapeutic alliance,” or connecting with his patients so they feel comfortable enough to share updates and downturns. Other medical observances, such as looking for a tremor in Braxton’s hands (which can be caused by lithium) are also made during this time. Fine-tuning the right combination of medications takes time, but Melissa is thankful for the help and support of Dr. Rovick and others at Catalpa Health. “I needed someone to help me help Braxton,” Melissa explains. “Dr. Rovick is that person for me. He’s encouraging. When I get down and don’t know what to do with Brax, he helps. He is very kind and easy to talk to.”

No Health Without Mental Health

Results from the 2006 LIFE Study, conducted by United Way Fox Cities, were crystal clear: kids in the Fox Valley weren’t receiving the mental healthcare they needed to live well. As a joint venture between Affinity Health System, ThedaCare and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Catalpa Health provides comprehensive, outpatient behavioral healthcare to children. The organization currently has six psychologists, four psychiatrists, two prevention specialists and 12 master’s-level therapists. “I have never heard of a clinic that was created by competing organizations,” says Dr. Rovick. “And, it was opened with the understanding that it was going to lose money. But it was a commitment to the community and backed by the community. Large organizations Braxton got Soozzie Q for his 13th birthday. Together, they attend training classes at Camp Bandy in Amherst so Soozzie can become a certified emotional disabilities guide dog.

pooled their resources together to make this happen. It may sound piein-the-sky, but it’s symbolic of a community that wants to make better lives for its kids. It does make lives better. A week doesn’t go by that I don’t have a family say ‘I don’t know where we’d take our kid if there wasn’t Catalpa.’” Catalpa provides individual and group therapy, psychological and neuropsychological testing, medical management (psychiatry) and prevention services for the local public schools. St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton is the only hospital in the Fox Valley that provides inpatient mental health services. “If our office wasn’t here, kids like Braxton would still have access to Affinity’s inpatient unit, but the follow-up for outpatient would be left to the pediatrician and family practice doctors who really work hard, but don’t have the training,” Dr. Rovick adds. Dr. Rovick never planned to go into psychiatry. In medical school, he had his sights set on emergency medicine. Then he discovered the reach of mental health services. He was destined to give people the tools to change their lives. “These kids are trapped in these bodies and minds and can’t make sense of their emotions,” he says. “Theoretically, I can move them to a place of good function.”

Piece by Piece

When the voices in his head fade, the color on the paper darkens. Braxton uses art to cope with his rapidly-changing moods. He is comforted by the visions he brings to life with charcoal and paint. He is happiest when sketching, and his pile of completed pieces grows daily. “The good part of bipolar is that I’m very creative,” he says. “I do many things that no one else can. Everyone has their specials. Bipolar is my special. It has created me today.” There are many days Braxton feels good enough to ride his bike into town or take a walk with Soozzie Q, a high-spirited, Pug-Miniature Pincher mix he’s training to be an emotional disabilities guide dog. His art is currently on display at Phantom Art Gallery, a pop-up exhibit in a vacant store front on Main Street in downtown Waupaca. He’s also a featured artist in the “VSA Wisconsin’s Traveling Exhibition” on display at the Waupaca Public Library. Braxton dreams of opening a shop to sell art supplies in the storefront and teach art lessons in the back – a sign that he can see the light through some recent dark times. Also a clear indicator that mental illness is only a road block – much like that of cancer, heart disease or a chronic condition – for people trying to accomplish a task or act on a passion. Piece by piece and day by day, Braxton works on building the skills needed to cope and understand his “specials” – the thoughts, feelings and moods that embody bipolar disorder. “When you have a child with a mental illness, you find a way to deal with it. Is it easy? No. Do I wish he didn’t have bipolar? Sometimes. But then I think he wouldn’t be who he is. Bipolar doesn’t define him, but it is part of him.” Melissa, along with her husband and daughters, champion individuals like her son who face their demons every day, and advocate for family members, friends and even complete strangers who might not understand what their loved one is experiencing. “It took me a year to accept that my son had bipolar because it was hard,” she says. “It was a relief to get the diagnosis, but there’s a lot to understand. Everyone needs to see it to believe it. But it’s real. We live it every day.” Visit to read Braxton's blog, learn about his guide dog Soozzie Q, and scroll through his art pieces. For more information about services at Catalpa Health, go to or call 920.750.7000.

Face-to-Face with Mental Illness


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One Oshkosh woman finds the courage to face more than three decades of painful, repressed memories that resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the story of her journey to healing.



ESLIE R A DDATZ R E ME MBER S HIDING IN A CLOSET with her older sisters while her mom talked to her knife-wielding dad. She was only four years old – not old enough to know that what she was witnessing were the aftereffects of war her dad experienced while serving in Vietnam. They were instructed to stay hidden – sometimes for several hours – while their mom helped him through his episodes. Then there was Great Uncle Charlie, who sexually abused Raddatz and her three sisters over a span of time. And that was just the beginning. In her teens, Raddatz was molested, raped and abused by several others. For more than three decades, she lived in constant fear – until five years ago when she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Today, the 37-year-old works for the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother at the Provincial Office in Oshkosh. She holds four degrees and is Winter 2014

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happily married to her husband, Ramone. But for many years, every day was a struggle. It took 30 years for Raddatz to seek help for PTSD, which caused her to suffer from severe panic attacks, dizzy spells, constant flashbacks and nightmares, and angry outbursts triggered by smells, sights, sounds and touch. “A lot of people who get sick like me can’t function,” Raddatz says. “People have their breaking points. I went in to Mercy Medical Center about three years ago because my doctor told me my crisis mode was getting the best of me. Before that, I was trying to do this whole thing without medication because of the stigma associated with mental illness.” After accepting that she couldn’t face this alone, Raddatz started down a long road to recovery.

The Past is the Past

Neglect. Vulnerability. Fear. Turmoil. These were the common states Raddatz lived in when she was a young girl. Her earliest memories are of her father, who was a positive figure despite the PTSD he experienced after the war. Raddatz remembers watching him encounter flashbacks and suffer through outbursts. During the week, he worked as a painter and played in a band on the weekends. Her mother was always in the picture, but she struggled with substance abuse. Going out to attend her husband’s shows meant drinking nights on end. Years later, she checked herself into rehab when Raddatz was two years old. There were many nights when there wasn’t any food on the table. Raddatz was left to fend for herself, which is when the molestation and sexual assaults started to take place. The neglect threw Raddatz into a downward spiral. When she was a junior in high school, she became pregnant and got married. About

three months into the marriage, her first husband started verbally, physically and emotionally abusing Raddatz and their daughter. Not knowing who to turn to or where to go for help, she endured the pain and abuse for many years. When she was 21, Raddatz filed for divorce after she gave birth to their second daughter. The first few years of her adulthood were filled with violence, intimidation and fear. Because of this, she isolated herself from her family and friends. Some time after the divorce, Raddatz began to experience flashbacks of controlling, abusive situations that took place when she was with her ex-husband. His hurtful words would echo in her head and would become overwhelmed by feelings of guilt for putting herself and her daughters in danger. Often times, she would relive the experiences – transported back to a specific moment – and emerge from the flashback crying or rocking back and forth.

The Child Within

Raddatz continued to experience symptoms of PTSD even after meeting and marrying her current husband, Ramone. She found herself returning to her “child within” or the various ages when acts of abuse and violence occurred. It was hard to function between the nightmares and flashbacks. So, she kept busy. One unsuspecting symptom of the disorder is overachievement. People who suffer from PTSD try to keep themselves distracted in fear that they’ll experience a flashback during a moment of rest. This was the case for Raddatz. She went back to school at night and earned four degrees, two through Fox Valley Technical College where she was awarded the Achievement Against the Odds Award, and two from Lakeland College. That’s right around the time her symptoms escalated. Her nervous system started to shut down.

“If there’s a child that has cancer, there are people donating, loving, accepting that child. But if a child or adult has mental illness, no one wants to talk about it." — Leslie Raddatz

“I remember one time being in a store and feeling like I was having a stroke,” Raddatz remembers. “I lost the ability to talk, and my face and part of my body went numb. Shortly after, I experienced memory loss.” In 2011, the symptoms became so severe that she was hospitalized at Mercy Medical Center’s adult inpatient behavioral health unit. “My last episode before I went into the hospital happened when my kids were playing and being loud,” Raddatz recalls. “With my hypersensitivity, I’d cover my ears and scream: ‘Stop being so loud!’ My husband would point out that they weren’t being loud at all. I ended up isolating myself from my family, trying to cover it up and keep it a secret as long as I could.” “I had to learn that the things that happened to me weren’t my fault,” she continues. A few months later, she was referred to Dr. Thomas Rowell, a psychiatrist with Affinity Behavioral Health at St. Elizabeth Hospital. “She came to me with a lot of anxiety,” he recalls. “She was anxious to the point where she wouldn’t leave her home, and the depression was severe. After interviewing her, I discovered she had classic symptoms of PTSD: avoidance behavior, problems with intimacy, nightmares.” According to Dr. Rowell, PTSD is an anxiety disorder with two components – a learned behavior or genetic. “Early on in childhood, if you had to live a chaotic life, are abused, bullied or around a lot of chaos, you learn to live in fight-or-flight mode,” he explains. “People learn to exist in that mode. Later on in life, if you Collages made by Leslie while she stayed in Mercy Medical Center’s inpatient behavioral health unit in 2011. She finds art therapeutic and still collages today.

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WHAT IS POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that affects about 7.7 million Americans adults. Most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. For others, symptoms may not appear for months or even years later. Some of these symptoms include: 1. Reliving the event by way of flashbacks (feeling like you’re going through the event again), frightening memories or nightmares. These symptoms can cause disruptions in a person’s everyday routine. Specific words, objects or situations can serve as reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing. 2. Avoidance. Staying away from people, places or things that trigger memories of the traumatic event. 3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings. A trauma can change the way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. It might also cause one to lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable and prompt feelings of guilt, depression, worry and shame. 4. Hyperarousal (feeling “on the edge”). These symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind someone of the traumatic event, and can make the person feel stressed and angry. This also interferes with daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating or concentrating. 5. Physical reactions to the event, such as dizziness, fainting, rapid heartbeat or chest pain, and headaches. PTSD is commonly known to affect war veterans, but it can surface after a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes. It can occur at any age, including childhood. There is even some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families. But not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause symptoms. There are ways to cope with PTSD and treatments are known to help. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of the disorder, please contact Affinity NurseDirect at 800.362.9900. Source: National Institute of Mental Health

don’t have the genetic component, it goes away because you learn to live a little different. If the genetic component is there, you have both the anxiety and the learned behavior – it’s then a perfect storm.” He adds that those individuals who witness a traumatic event process the memory to a part of the brain that associates the instance with sounds, smells or the time of year. When those instances come about again, the brain is triggered and the individual becomes symptomatic. “The brain naturally wants you to repress those memories,” Dr. Rowell explains. “It doesn’t want you to remember. Take Vietnam vets for example. They returned home from war and kept themselves busy. Thirty years later, they retired and the flashbacks started up. People say they’re faking it, but no – it’s repression.” Dr. Rowell, who is an army veteran (deployed three times and served as an army reserve psychiatrist), was able to recognize the situation Raddatz was in and map out a standard of care for her. She also continued to see a therapist who used brain-spotting and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – a form of therapy that helps people reprocess traumatic memories from the spot in the brain where memories are frozen and trapped. By reprocessing the memories using techniques like brain-spotting and EMDR, the brain realizes the person is no longer in danger. “I was able to talk to my child within as an adult and release that pain,” Raddatz explains. She has worked on therapy for years, in addition to seeing Dr. Rowell for additional support. “I consider myself to be the conductor,” Dr. Rowell says. “I want to ensure she's on the right medicine to treat the condition. I also feel therapy is an important component for patients to get well. I often recommend therapists that are well-versed in PTSD.” w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

Help in Healing

It wasn’t easy to confront decades of painful memories, especially since for many of those years, Raddatz viewed therapy and medications as a sign of weakness. “Dr. Rowell was the key to my healing,” she says. “Up until that point, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. When I went into the hospital, their objective was to get me stabilized, get me back home and connect me to Dr. Rowell for long-term care. When I got to Dr. Rowell, he was amazed I did so well in my life.” He confirms that statement. “She went at (therapy) like it was her job,” Dr. Rowell says. “She dedicated herself to it. With the medicine and the therapy, she started getting her confidence back. She was a frightened child when she first saw me, but she took on the disease like it was a monster and decided she wasn’t going to let it control her. She followed the treatment plan and did really well.” Raddatz still sees Dr. Rowell every four months. And as for the stigma? Both Raddatz and Dr. Rowell assure that it’s still there, but that it’s education that will solve the mental health crisis in our country. “The days of Freud are over,” Dr. Rowell says. “There are areas in the brain that demonstrate the symptoms Leslie experiences. We know there are organic reasons for PTSD. I often tell families that mental health is like high blood pressure and diabetes. You have to be on medicine. In spite of the misconceptions, patients can't just get over it when they are symptomatic. Mental health is an easy field to pick on because it’s not tangible, but this is real.” Raddatz has since written a memoir called “Flashbacks in PostTraumatic Stress Disorder: Surviving the Flood," which details her horrific experiences and the healing journey she took through therapy and acceptance. She still faces daily struggles and will be in the recovery stage for quite some time, but with the support of her husband and family, she has faced the experiences that haunted her. “There will always be something I have to work on, and there will always be triggers,” she says. “I’ll never be cured of PTSD. But I no longer live in fear.” To learn more about Leslie and her journey through mental illness, visit For information on Affinity Behavioral Health, go to, click 'Services' and then 'Behavioral Health.' Winter 2014

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after c@re

Get to know your care provider


The unsuspected passion of a psychiatrist

An Open Book D

r. David Sovine sits at his desk with three fantasy novels before him. He’s a psychiatrist at St. Elizabeth Hospital, so it may come as a surprise that he is also the author of these three works of young adult fiction. “I never took a fiction class, but I always enjoyed writing and have been lucky enough to have some success,” says Dr. Sovine. “My dad, sister and uncle all have a history of writing, so it was in the family. I was encouraged by them and by my high-school English teacher.” Dr. Sovine had the idea to craft a story about a group of students attending a sorcery college in 1975. The idea came to fruition as the series “Collegium Sorcerorum” under the pen name Louis Sauvain, the original spelling of his Swiss surname, in order to keep some distance between his professional life and his writing. Drawing inspiration from his time in medical school, Dr. Sovine chose to focus his story on the escapades of student life. “I wondered, what would college be like for a bunch of sorcery students? I was thinking about that for many years and finally got around to putting it on paper around 2003,” he recalls. Noticing a trend toward urban fiction, a literary genre set in an urban landscape, Dr. Sovine thought he’d explore a different route for the setting of his novel: a throwback book. “I thought it’d be interesting to write something that was framed back in the day, something not so explicit and edgy,” says Dr. Sovine. “I asked myself what I’d like to sit down to read and that’s what I wrote.” Dr. Sovine took on his first writing project in 1981 when he coauthored a clinical textbook on biological feedback with a neurologist and a psychologist. In 1997, he published his first work of fiction, “Magnolia Reich: An American Holocaust,” a political black satire.

The student who returned Dr. Sovine’s call was Sean Bodley. He’s the artist of all the illustrations inside the “Collegium Sorcerorum” series, as well as the covers. “I’m no artist, but I wanted to include a map in the book with black silhouettes of the main characters looking out over it,” says Dr. Sovine. “Sean and I are still in touch even though he graduated and moved on.” So, how do the realms of psychiatry and fantasy fiction meld? For Dr. Sovine, they don’t. “I’ve tried not to blend the worlds, and I haven’t used any patient material,” says Dr. Sovine. “If I’ve introduced anything from psychiatry into my fiction writing, it’s that the good guys treat other people the way they should. We leave it to the bad guys to demonstrate the pathology. I’ve interwoven some of the aspects of good psychology into my characters’ behavior, but otherwise I’ve really tried to separate the two professions.” When five o’clock rolls around, it’s relaxing to switch off one part of the brain and turn on another. And that’s when the inspiration comes, he explains. With travel time to and from work, Dr. Sovine has had plenty of time over the years to craft a timeline of major events in the novels and as many writers say, the characters tell the author where to go next. Another source of inspiration for Dr. Sovine’s characters are his four children. “They’ve been very supportive and are hoping for a share of the royalties,” he jokes. “But if the series ever goes to Hollywood, part of the agreement with the producers will be that the kids get parts as extras.” Apart from his children, Dr. Sovine’s reason for choosing the fantasy genre is simple: he’s always loved it. However, once he started writing fantasy he stopped reading it and avoided popular series, such as Harry

“I’ve interwoven some of the aspects of good psychology into my characters’ behavior, otherwise I try to separate the two professions.” It wasn’t until he wrote “Collegium Sorcerorum” that Dr. Sovine explored the world of self-publishing. “Initially, ‘Collegium Sorcerum’ was about 1,500 pages and, for some reason, no one wanted to publish it,” says Dr. Sovine, laughing. “Someone suggested dividing the book into pieces, as it might be more digestible and I ended up with three books instead of one.” After some discouragement when the economy dipped, Dr. Sovine successfully self-published the first three volumes of his series through Amazon’s CreateSpace; it only took six months. But it doesn’t end there. We can expect six more volumes to complete the series in the coming years. A featured author at last year’s annual Fox Cities Book Festival, Dr. Sovine’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle. Even as adults, most of us love seeing an illustration or two in the books we read. When Dr. Sovine decided he wanted to incorporate a few into his series, he contacted the fine arts department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and asked if there were any students who would like to make some extra money. 18 | @Affinity

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—Dr. David Sovine

Potter, to avoid any overlapping scenarios in his own writing. He eventually read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and saw a practical advantage for himself. “Rowling’s books are geared towards younger readers, while my storyline focuses on the high school and college age. I figured once they’re finished with Harry Potter, they’ll be looking for the next fantasy series. However, I didn’t see Game of Thrones coming,” laughs Dr. Sovine. While some have pointed out that he’s a little late to the game, Dr. Sovine has experienced much support and encouragement in his writing endeavors. “I have colleagues who have read my work and made suggestions or corrections,” says Dr. Sovine. “I also always try to keep in mind that the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, didn’t publish his first work until he was 56. I’ve always taken inspiration from him.” And perhaps we can take inspiration from Dr. Sovine who has made it clear that it’s never too late to pursue a passion and find success in life’s later years. w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

Dr. David Sovine pulls up a chair at Thomas A. Lyons Fine Books in the Marketplace building downtown Neenah where he led a disucssion at last year’s Fox Cities Book Festival.

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giving b@ck

BY PATRICK MCGINNIS, manager of rehabilitation services at Calumet Medical Center, along with Doug Baer, environmental associate, and Phil Anhalt, maintenance mechanic

Duty Calls

Left to right: Doug Baer, Patrick McGinnis and Phil Anhalt often get pulled away from their jobs at Calumet Medical Center to answer the call of duty with the Chilton Fire Department.

Each issue, we share the story of an Affinity Health System team member who volunteers at a local nonprofit organization. Affinity is committed to supporting local organizations and charitable events aligned with our mission of providing services that promote the health and well-being of the communities we serve. 20 | @Affinity

WHAT STARTED AS A QUIET DAY THREE SUMMERS AGO quickly turned into a test of spirit, strength, will and a little physics. I was at work for only three hours when the tones sounded and the Chilton Fire Department (CFD) was dispatched to assist the Hilbert Fire Department. I was in the second truck to arrive on the scene and waited almost 25 minutes before the incident commander called for more manpower. At that point, I had assumed we would be cleaning up or carrying equipment back to the truck. As I approached the scene with another firefighter, we could sense the severity of the situation. There were looks of both hope and dread on the faces of the responders already on scene. The incident commander looked both of us up and down. Being the smaller one, I was chosen, and my first thought was that I was going to be crawling into, over or under a tight spot. I was right. As I approached the wreck, I was stopped by a paramedic who removed my helmet and said, “You won’t need this.” Then a fellow firefighter asked for my jacket and stated, “You won’t fit in there with it on.” What I saw next was an exhausted firefighter holding a 50-pound JAWS-of-life tool. He had been working tirelessly and needed to be

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relieved. Before I knew it, the JAWS were in my hands and I was picking up where he left off. With everyone working together, we were able to free the person seven minutes later. About an hour after that, I was back at Calumet Medical Center (CMC) for an appointment with a patient in the rehab gym – where I work my full-time job. When asked why I joined the CFD nine years ago, I say: Phil talked me into it, and I thank him for it. Phil Anhalt’s father was a very wellrespected member of the CFD for 30 years, and Phil was destined to follow. He was able to serve with his father for 18 years and has been active for more than 27. He holds the current rank of captain. Douglas Baer has been a member of CFD for 17 years after serving on the Hilbert Fire Department for eight. w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

In Chilton, a small town in a rural area, volunteers are vital to the safety and well-being of everyone.

Phil, Doug and I have now worked together at CMC and CFD for almost a decade. Training to be a firefighter begins the first day you step into the firehouse and ends when you retire. It is the most important thing we do in order to keep our community safe. Most members of our department complete two firefighter training courses at Fox Valley Technical College to learn about hazmat operations, how to become a driver operator, and aerial certification. Phil and I continued our education to become firefighter trainers, and I’m also a fire investigator. This involves hundreds of hours of training and a lot of time away from our families, who we regularly thank and apologize to for the inconvenience it sometimes causes. All positions on the CFD are volunteer. Being in our department takes a great deal of personal commitment and a large amount of time – some planned and some not. When the tones go off, we leave wherever we may be at the time (since none of us work from the firehouse). We have had to ditch weddings, birthday parties, family dinners, shopping carts full of food, and work. I’m thankful for a job at CMC that allows me the flexibility to serve my community in this way. But our fire department is also family. We think of one another as brothers and sisters. Whenever anyone asks what firefighting is like, I quote our first assistant chief: “It’s bullwork.” The bunker gear is hot, the air packs are heavy and your working environment is strenuous. You’re dirty, you smell and, in most cases, it takes you longer to clean up the fire scene and get the trucks back in service than it did to put out the fire. Doug, Phil and I will probably continue to serve on the fire department until our bodies dictate otherwise. We join and serve on the fire department for various reasons, but we know that we serve a greater purpose for our community. Here in Chilton, a small town in a rural area, volunteers are vital to the safety and well-being of everyone. I remember looking over the scene shortly after the accident three summers ago and reflecting on how many people it took to get that one person away from the wreck. There wasn’t a single person who played a small role at that scene. Each firefighter was supported by the 100-percent effort of the firefighter next to them. We work many hours with very little recognition. We have our reasons, and we know that we serve a greater purpose for our community.

SNAPSHOT: CFD SNAPSHOT: CFD Members of the Chilton Fire Department (CFD) are

a team of of dedicated professionals and volunteers Members the Chilton Fire Department (CFD) are forprofessionals the purpose of protecting lives abonded team oftogether dedicated and volunteers and property within accomplish bonded together forthe thecommunity. purpose of To protecting lives this property mission, they challenge themselves to become and within the community. To accomplish this mission, knowledgeable they task themselves to become increasingly and proficient in the increasingly knowledgeable and proficient fire in the areas of public education, fire prevention, areas of public education, fire prevention, firefire suppression, hazardous materials mitigation, suppression, hazardous materials mitigation, fire cause determination, natural disaster response cause natural response and and alldetermination, good-faith rescues. Fordisaster more information, all good-faith rescues. To learn more, www. visit, clickvisit on ‘City, on ‘City Department’ Department’ and then click ‘Fire Department.’ and then ‘Fire Department.’

w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

Foundations for Giving Back

Expressions of Gratitude By Paul Nicolaus


hen Linda Harper found herself in the emergency department at St. Elizabeth Hospital during the winter of 2007, she received the care and attention needed during a vulnerable moment. “I originally went up there to get some help,” she says, explaining that her mind was racing with suicidal and homicidal thoughts. “I knew something wasn’t right; I just wasn’t sure what.” Harper was admitted to the hospital’s behavioral health adult inpatient unit and provided a safe environment. With the help of Dr. David Sovine, psychiatrist, and other team members, she received medication, initial assessments and group therapy during her sevenday stay in the treatment facility. Following that week, she was also set up with appropriate, ongoing medication and counseling assistance to treat her newly-diagnosed mental health issues. Years later, Harper was inspired by the way the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation stepped in during a time of need by contributing to her medical bill. “I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if they wouldn’t have helped me,” she says. Looking for a way to express that gratitude, Harper saved her money and returned the favor by donating $2,000 back to the Foundation. According to Tonya Dedering, regional director of Affinity Health System Foundations, Grateful patient Linda Harper “It’s heartwarming to see our patients doing well years later. They are so appreciative of the excellent care that, in some cases, saved their lives. Linda is one example of selfless giving that is truly at the heart of the Foundation.” Generosity was also on display in a big way at the 2013 Women’s Golf & Luncheon Benefit. Thanks to this event, the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit at St. Elizabeth Hospital will be on the receiving end of more than $50,000. From added program support for family or group therapy sessions to provide comfort and shelter, the funds will provide much needed services and items that will help children and their families overcome a difficult situation. To make a tax-deductible charitable donation to support St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation and Mercy Health Foundation, please visit and under ‘About Us’ click on ‘Foundations.’

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le@rn & live

Educational Opportunities


Living well with chronic conditions


SAVE THE DATE On Monday, April 21, Chef Tracy Darling will present a healthy cooking demonstration at Calumet Medical Center’s second annual Healthy Living Cooking event. If you’ve ever visited Village Hearthstone in Hilbert, you know Chef Tracy sources local farmers and organic cooperatives and uses herbs from the restaurant’s patio, which makes her an expert in “light, local and seasonal cooking” – the theme of this year’s demo. Stay for the door prizes and other educational teachings from local vendors (hello, free samples!). Event will take place at Chilton High School. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m.; event starts at 6 p.m. Cost is $10. For more information, call 800.362.9900.


iabetes. High blood pressure. Heart disease. What do all chronic conditions have in common? Frustration. “Often patients carry anxiety and worry about their chronic health condition and what it means for their future,” says Leah DiedrickWilliams, LCSW, behavioral health care coordinator at Calumet Medical Center Clinic in Chilton. “They can become depressed as a result of the way the condition impacts their life.” That’s why Affinity offers a special class called Living Well With Chronic Conditions, designed to encourage and empower patients on their personal healthcare journey. Participants learn more about their disease

22 | @Affinity

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and gain practical tips for improving quality of life. Best of all, the class provides an emotional support network. “It’s like a family,” says Jean Beck of New Holstein, who was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “You can ask questions among people who understand, because these people are dealing with the same issues. We were not only students, but we became teachers for each other.” As class facilitator, Diedrick-Williams focuses on the connection between physical and mental health, and she has seen many patients transformed into strong advocates for their own health. “Ultimately, each of us is responsible for our health,” she says. “It’s important to ask questions and advocate for yourself so that you

are heard in the decision-making process and doing what you believe is best for you. This can reduce the stress and anxiety associated with chronic health conditions.” One of the ways the class encourages selfcare is through goal setting. During the six-week course, participants set a weekly goal or “action plan” and learn how good it feels to achieve it. “It’s awesome to observe their sense of accomplishment and the motivation that comes from that process,” Diedrick-Williams says. “Change occurs one step at a time, and this class can be a catalyst for people to become active and empowered in their path to wellness.” Beck agrees. “It may be easy to find information about your condition in books and on the Internet, but it’s not the same as being with people,” she says. “This class gave me hope. I was feeling limited and getting discouraged easily. But the group motivated and inspired me.” New classes are being offered beginning in March. The cost is free, with a suggested donation of $10 to cover materials. For more information or to register, call Affinity NurseDirect at 800.362.9900. w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

Portrait Perfect

ki d s

Many people find art to be therapeutic. In the frame below, sketch how you see yourself or your family. Send the drawing to the address below for a chance to win a customized art kit. Portraits will also be posted to our blog and Facebook page!

Please provide name, age and a phone number

All completed drawings will be entered in a drawing to win a customized art kit! Take a photo or scan and send it to w w w. a f f i n i t y h e a l t h . o r g / b l o g

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Affinity Health System 1570 Midway Pl. Menasha, WI 54952

sn @ps

Agape Community Center hosted its thi rd annual fundraisin on November 23 at g event The event honored individ Wisconsin Club in northwest Milwauk ee. uals, corporations, churches, and sponso The continually support Agape in transform rs who ing The evening included live a delicious dinner, aw s for a prosperous future. music and fellowshi ards, casino night gam p, and ultimately rai ing, sed funds to suppo weekly community rt Agape’s meals and other pro grams. To learn mo Agape, visit www.agap re about

vent men e for Wo erved as an h t h ig N s al 0 wit h annu vening mber 3 The 11t on on Septe rmational e eon, and o t g f il r in Ch ional and in general su ecca t in Reb inspira r Janu, AMG r of Wiscons as well as e r, rs. t Dr. Pe ant Governo ncer survivo ion exhibito t n a a e c t iz n u n Lie rga colo sses/o sch, a Kleefi local busine s u vario

e is stem’s Financ iday nity Health Sy ol H Affi , al 14 nu r an be h m On Nove p held its 9t (F.I.S.H.) grou wares, this Sharing Hope l vendors selling crafts and ca benefit the Fair. With 17 lo brought in $1,200 and will r Waupaca , ise m ra ra nd og fu Pr year’s ter and Meals el Sh al Rescue y im m An Ar n n Salvatio .A.R.S. (Orpha O d an people y, et 10 ci Humane So by a team of . F.I.S.H. is led services department y) ar tu nc Sa d s an patient busines es of the from Affinity’s make a difference in the liv to r ge ea who are ities. in our commun less fortunate

We do n’t jus t care we’re p for the roud t comm o be an unity, Here i active s a glim p art of pse of activit it. some o ies in t f our r he com ecent munit ies we serve.

Mercy Hea lth Foundat ion partnered wit of the Osh h the Women’s Fund kosh Area Com Foundation and the Osh munity to present a free scre kosh YMCA en moving do cumentary ing of the , “A Dragon,” o n October waken the 30. The film follows the st survivors w ory of a team of canc ho train fo r and comp er in a dragon ete b screening ev oat race. The movie ent celebra survivorshi te d cancer p. Gremminge Oncologist Dr. Karen r and cancer including Jo survivors, y teamed-up Konrad (pictured), to compet e in dragon boa t races in Se Oshkosh’s ptember.

Eight-ye arof the C old Olivia Schu h alumet M edical C was the lucky win card desi en g n second-g n contest. The C ter (CMC) Chri er st h ra first ann der entered he ilton Elementary mas ua r Christm l contest to win creation in the as Parad a e float in ride on the CM on Saturd C th a Rankin/B y, December 7. e Chilton Parad e O a “In the o ss animated film livia used the 19 74 ld fo I remem movie, ‘The Yea r her 2D inspira ber the p ti r withou t Santa C on art when Claus ha d la S Claus de to deliver the pre anta got sick an us,’ dM livering th se e presen nts. This is Mrs rs. . ts!”

@Affinity Magazine - Winter 2014 - Mental Health  

The winter 2014 issue of Affinity Health System's quarterly magazine explores mental illness and how we can, as a community, end the misunde...

@Affinity Magazine - Winter 2014 - Mental Health  

The winter 2014 issue of Affinity Health System's quarterly magazine explores mental illness and how we can, as a community, end the misunde...