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Reaching Out Respite

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fort HealthCare has been your partner in not only keeping you and your loved ones healthy, but also in making the Fort Atkinson area a great place to live and call home. Our mission at Fort HealthCare is to provide excellent, compassionate care for the people of our communities. Our vision is to be the best independent community health system. To make both of these aspirations come to fruition, we must work to make our communities better, stronger and healthier, sometimes regardless of the economic cost to this organization. In all, Fort HealthCare provided over $2.4 million in free or reduced cost services last fiscal year, impacting many, many people in the communities we serve.

Fort HealthCare nurses, physicians and staff from all departments work diligently to not only provide exceptional care to our patients, but also contribute selflessly to a variety of community causes and events.

For over 10 years, Fort HealthCare has provided caregivers in the communities of Lake Mills and Fort Atkinson with a weekly respite service called “Reaching Out Respite.” Reaching Out is a collaborative effort between Fort HealthCare, area churches and local volunteers. The program’s purpose is to offer companionship and social activities for adults who need constant, supervised care while providing up to six hours of respite for full-time caregivers.

Kay Wipperfurth, Vice President of Ancillary and Support Services at Fort HealthCare, states, “The respite program is an opportunity for a community to come together and support one another, and it is one of the most rewarding things accomplished through our hospital. To hear people that are responsible for care 24 hours a day talk about how important this program is to them is just amazing.” 

Reaching Out Respite recognizes that it is primarily families, not institutions, who care for the elderly and special needs adults. The program offers caregivers an interval of rest and renewal, or respite, by providing trained, caring staff to be with loved ones in a safe environment while caregivers are given the opportunity to run errands, attend to personal matters, or socialize. Or, it may just be that the respite program provides an opportunity for caregivers to have time away to relax and refresh, as sometimes the demanding responsibility of a full-time caregiver can affect the well-being of an entire family.

Guests of the program may be dealing with a chronic illness such as dementia, or be socially isolated due to frailty. A Fort HealthCare nurse is on site to dispense medication and volunteers are present to assist guests. Fort Memorial Hospital provides the respite nursing positions for free at area churches, and there is no off-setting revenue for the program.