Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative joined forces with Quarles & Brady, LLP to create the Quarles & Brady RWHC Community Engagement Award recognizing excellent community engagement in health and wellness. Out of the many qualified applicants, they awarded first place to Fort HealthCare. The criteria for the award consisted of health improvements over time, community assets, community vision for health improvement and community partnerships.


“As a healthcare organization, we have established our mission and vision to be community-based. By promoting ‘health’ rather than ‘health care’, we are helping our communities turn a corner with their personal health, to be more proactive rather than reactive. Our community members are our greatest assets” states Mike Wallace, President/CEO of Fort HealthCare.

Programs and initiatives implemented over the last four years have been contributing to Fort HealthCare achieving its vision to become the healthiest community in Wisconsin. This process helped Fort HealthCare develop a needs assessment specific to measuring community wellness and impact across the service area. Qualitative research identified the most important health issues from a number of key groups including Fort HealthCare staff, community leaders, business leaders, school districts, and agencies/social services. The community door-to-door survey ensures that the strategic plans are aligned with the vision to become the healthiest community in Wisconsin.

While strengthening the inter-county coalitions, Fort HealthCare continually works to grow the Healthy Community Coalitions, serving six communities and establishing health initiatives in a variety of sectors including schools, worksites, and the community-at-large.

For Fort HealthCare, the continual promotion of health improvement is a primary focus. There is a true grassroots effort happening right now in all of the local communities. The Healthy Community Coalitions of Jefferson County have taken progressive steps towards making these local communities healthier places to live through the promotion of positive behavioral health changes. The coalitions exist in Johnson Creek, Cambridge, Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Whitewater, and Lake Mills.

Some of the other major initiatives produced by the volunteers that make up these Coalitions include: Fort HealthCare Community Challenges, COACH – The Coalitions have had a significant part in the COACH (Collaborating, Organizing, and Advocating for Community Health) program facilitated by the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute to educate these community leaders on how to manage and succeed with their coalition, Eating Clean in 2015, Simple Swaps- small changes that can be incorporated into everyday life that can improve health, Let’s Drink More Water/Rethink Your Drink – A major success that several of the Coalitions celebrated was the increase of water consumption in the schools, Bike to School –Bike/Walk to School days are held in the fall and spring that encourage students and employees to bike or walk to school rather than take the bus or be dropped off by their parents, and Try-It Tuesdays – the Coalitions not only focus on physical activity for kids, but also healthy eating through programming such as Try-It Tuesdays, Farm to School initiatives, and school garden.

The Quarles & Brady RWHC Community Engagement Award reflects our progress towards becoming the healthiest community in Wisconsin!