Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Organization Provides Comfort

Tina Fern Denzer, left, and Brooke Van Someren got together last week to view photographs taken by Heather Lombardo of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

Tina Fern Denzer of Woodville and Brooke [Schofield] Van Someren of Baldwin both know the pain of the loss of a child-although in different ways.

Tina and her husband Travis' baby boy Isaiah was born alive at 32 weeks but only lived for an hour.

Brooke and her husband Kirk's baby girl Emma was stillborn at 24 weeks.

Tina delivered at United Hospital in St. Paul, three days after her baby was diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality.

Brooke's baby Emma also suffered from a chromosomal defect which would cause her death.

Both Tina and Brooke and their families have found comfort in an organization called "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" or NILMDTS, which is a non-profit organization that exists to give comfort to families suffering an early infant loss, according to the NILMDTS brochure. "Parents of critically ill or stillborn babies contact NILMDTS, who then provide them with beautiful, heirloom portraits of their children," the brochure explains.

According to a narrative by Tina, "in June 2006, only eight weeks before our due date, we discovered that there might be something wrong." She was told that her baby had a "chromosomal defect that happens at fertilization and is not compatible with life." Her baby Isaiah was born June 8, 2006 and Tina and Travis had the opportunity to hold him and talk to him. All the special moments "were captured by Heather Lombardo, who volunteers her talents through Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep." With the help of the photographs taken, "we are able to cherish every moment with our little angel," Tina wrote. "We truly felt we were blessed by two angels that day, our precious baby boy Isaiah, and Heather our photographer, who captured all the moments we never wanted to forget. These photos tell Isaiah's story and will one day help tell the story to Isaiah's big brother, Ethan, who is just too young to understand what happened to his baby brother."

In September, 2006 Brooke and Kirk learned after an ultra sound that their baby had a fatal condition and would not live past 28 weeks gestation due to a chromosome defect. After the diagnosis, Brooke wrote, she was contacted by Tina "which was very courageous and strong on her part. It was unfortunate that we would create this friendship through losing our children only months apart and we live only miles away from each other."

Tina told Brooke about NILMDTS, and Brooke contacted Heather Lombardo and arranged a photo shoot. Emma was stillborn October 10, 2006 and Heather came and "took photos of Emma after her delivery."

Not every parent will have the opportunity to utilize the photo service from NILMDTS, but there is an on-line support group called "nowisleep.com" which is available to all parents.

Now, it's been a year since the loss of both babies and Tina and Brooke said they have found some peace and there has been healing after experiencing a loss.

Both women became pregnant again. Brooke had her baby boy Caden Wednesday, September 26 by c-section and Tina is due in January.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Tina said she wants to spread the word of NILMDTS so mothers who experience the loss of a child don't feel alone. "I don't want families who experience the loss of a child to feel alone and empty as I did," she said.

"I didn't feel alone or empty because you helped me through my grief because you had already been there," said Brooke to Tina.

There are currently 2,000 photographers worldwide in the NILMDTS network and they are available to any family with a child with a terminal outlook, said Brooke.

The NILMDTS organization can be contacted through its website: www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org or by contacting either Tina or Brooke locally.

BAMC Eplains Need for Increased Charges

The medical staff and administration of Baldwin Area Medical Center are committed not only to providing the highest quality health care possibleto areas residents, but also to maintain the financial health of BAMC.

In an effort to maintain the financial health of the organization, BAMC monitors the need for rate adjustments and periodically implements changes. A notice of rate increases was published in last week's paper that will go into effect November 1.

In an effort to explain the reasons for rate increases, BAMC's administration has prepared a fact sheet in a question and answer format. The rate increase that will go into effect November 1 "will increase gross patient revenues 10% on an annualized basis," the fact sheet explains. "When annualized, the Medical Center's current increases equals a 3.3% increase per year since the last increase, which occurred in December 2004."

According to the fact sheet, "a rate increase is necessary at this time to offset continued shortfalls in payments from government health programs (Medicare and Medicaid). Rates paid for Medicare and Medicaid patients are prescribed by the Federal and State governments. When measured as a percentage, Medicare accounts for 37% and Medicaid, in combination with Medicaid Managed Care, accounts for an additional 7% of the Medical Center's gross revenues. While Medical Center's classification as a Critical Access Hospital in 2004 has resulted in improved Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, the fact remains that the Medical Center has no control over payment rates for services associated with 44% of its gross revenues.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association "Wisconsin hospital patient care (operating) margins dropped to 3.1% in 2006, the lowest in eight years, and a decrease of 39% from 2005. By comparison, Baldwin Area Medical Center's operating margin was 2.0% in 2006, a drop of 66% from its 5.8% operating margin in 2005."

The Wisconsin Hospital Association also reported that charity care rose by 27% from 2005 to 2006, while Baldwin Area Medical Center's charity care rose 30% in the same time frame.

Although "the total charges generated by the Medical Center from inpatients and outpatients for services provided" will increase by 10%, the fact sheet points out that "there are multiple payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and a number of commercial payers, for which the rate increase will result in no additional revenue to the Medical Center. By way of illustration, for every $1 of additional inpatient revenue generated by the rate increase, the Medical Center estimates that it will collect approximately 21¢ prior to adjustments for bad debt."

The effect of the rate increase on patients "depends on the health insurance coverage the patient has, if any, and the specific services used by the patient."

Before the present increase, the last increase in rates at BAMC was in 2004 when an annualized increase of 7% was instituted. If the rate increases are "annualized over the 10-year period, Baldwin Area Medical Center's average annual increase has been 3.63% (unadjusted for cumulative impact)."

The fact sheet includes published rate increases for other hospitals in this region.

Hospital Administrator Greg Burns noted that the rate increase is the first major departure from what had been the norm since he has been in Baldwin. He also noted that Baldwin Area Medical Center is the last remaining independent facility in the region.

Emerald Man Dies in Motorcycle Accident

On September 27 at approximately 7:45 p.m. St. Croix County recorded its 15th motor vehicle fatality for 2007. John F. Rognholt, 43, of Emerald, was riding his 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle eastbound on 210th Ave. near 150th St. in the Town of Stanton when he struck a deer that ran out from the south ditch. Rognholt was ejected from the bike.

He was treated at the scene by New Richmond EMS, New Richmond Fire, Star Prairie First Responders and the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department before he was transported by New Richmond EMS to the New Richmond Municipal Airport. From there he was flown to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., by Lifelink Helicopter.

Rognholt was later pronounced dead at Regions Hospital. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The accident remains under investigation by the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department.