The Secret of Franciscan Sisters Community Health Clinic

Paul Keggington

August 22, 2012

When Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity set up a clinic practice 30 years ago the main focus of the clinic was health maintenance and promotion of healthy life styles among the Sisters. Today the secret of our convent ‘home’ clinic is it’s enduring legacy of wellness education and cost effective healthcare.

Then and now…

In 1982 Sister Caritas Strodthoff, NP said: “We’re not here to replace the physicians. Our role is of a complimentary nature. We try to elicit as much information as would be beneficial to the physician. My primary accountability relates to decision making affecting preventive health care, management of chronic and acute conditions and general physical and psychological well being.”

In 2012 the same Sister Caritas has this to say: “We do not bill for any appointments. Consequently all the physicals we do, all the assessment of problems that would possibly go to a physician are all gratus. We also get our OTC (Over the Counter) medications at a reduced price as we can get them in bulk supply. Blood draws are all done at a reduced rate as we do not have to pay for the draw fee of about $20.00. Our immunizations are also all discounted. So millions have been saved by having us here to do the skills we possess. Plus I think with us doing assessments and being available so readily, Sisters get diagnosed with problems much quicker than if they’d wait to see a physician. We can order tests and therefore address issues such as possible colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease hypertension, diabetes etc. and treat these diseases without needing to see a medical MD first. Plus we do a tremendous amount of education, answering questions, solving problems etc.”

How dream clinic came to be…

  • 1972: a Committee on Health and Aging was organized to educate our Sisters.
  • 1975: a health program complete with forms, tests and health maintenance recommendations was implemented.  Blood pressures, TB skin testing, chest x-rays, flu vaccine and numerous laboratory test were handled on a limited scale. Sister Alanna Ring RN was instrumental in collecting data for a future Community health clinic.
  • 1979: a survey to all our Sisters favored one or more nurse practioners be trained. 
  • At first Sister Marion Gillis RN organized and maintained a small-scale clinic of services.
  • August 21, 1982: after two Sisters completed studies as Adult Nurse Practitioners at the University of Madison, a larger renovated Motherhouse space was opened and named Holy Family Health Clinic. 
  • Sister healthcare professionals did change over the years, and other employees were added, but in-house health delivery remains strong. 

Today

Sister Anne Turba and Sister Caritas are the clinic’s current nurse practioners. A daily log shows our Community of Sisters continue to be supportive of the ministry and staff has grown to address the present needs of our Sisters. The clinic is now housed in an east-side basement location of the Motherhouse. Statistics on health services and referrals are recorded monthly and approximate savings continues to be notated.

Grateful for 30 healthy years…

Blessed with a high level of comprehensive health care, we give thanks to our 30+ Sisters and all who have served in this ministry these 30 very healthy years! (See simple, not complete clinic gallery)[nggallery id=210]

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