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First Breath Families Program to Begin Thanks to New Grant

 Helping Dane County Be Healthy

The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation is excited to announce the creation of our First Breath Families program thanks to Dean & St. Mary’s ‘Helping Dane County to be Healthy’ grant program designed to benefit the overall health of area communities. The WWHF is one of four organizations selected to be a part of the new program.

Community Health Priorities

Grant recipients will partner with Dean Clinic & St. Mary’s Hospital on at least one of three identified community health priorities. These health priorities were identified using community health data and feedback collected by the Healthy Dane Collaborative as part of a health needs assessment that is conducted every three years:

  • Mental Health, particularly focusing on reducing Dane County’s suicide rate
  • Chronic Disease, particularly hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Maternal Child Health, which improves the lives and health of mothers and children in various ways

Grant Recipients

A review panel of six SSM Health members (representing the clinics, hospital, Dean Health Plan and St. Mary’s Foundation) and three members of the community reviewed 24 proposals. Following are the groups that were selected, their annual grant amounts, and a description of the programs they will provide:

  • Second Harvest Food Bank, $45,000. Funding will benefit the Diabetes Wellness Program, a nine-month effort that will help at least 200 people better control their disease. The program includes distribution of food boxes especially packaged for those coping with diabetes. Second Harvest plans to expand the program into Rock and Sauk counties during the program’s second and third year of operation.
  • Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation, $45,000. The grant will support an in-home smoking cessation program for pregnant women – that will continue six months after they deliver their babies – as well as provide services for adults in their support networks. This program will also be available to Rock and Sauk counties in its second and third year.
  • Catholic Charities, $30,000. Focusing on youth suicide prevention in Wisconsin, the grant will fund a program to bring mental health services to rural school age children in Deerfield and Marshall. The program is modeled after a current program in the Madison schools that has had significant success.
  • Rebalanced Life Wellness Association, $30,000. By funding mentorship and education, the grant will help high-risk African American men increase physical activity, learn about healthy eating and nutrition, and promote volunteerism and social support.

“We know that  improving the health of our communities takes the help of many,” says Damond Boatwright, Regional President of Hospital Operations. “We are proud to partner with these organizations and are excited to see the difference we can make together.”

Supporting Women and their Families

With the support of this grant, countless women and families in Wisconsin will receive benefits of smoking cessation counseling. We greatly appreciate being chosen as 1 of 4 recipients to participate in ‘Helping Dane County to be Healthy’ which aligns with our mission to help women and their families reach their healthiest potential.

WWHF Provides Webinar on Perinatal Oral Health

WWHF - Perinatal Oral Health Webinar - 12.30.2015 1

Oral Health and Pregnancy

Oral health is critical at any time in a person’s life, but it can be especially important during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many pregnant women ignore oral health issues, or are unaware of what additional risks they should be alert to at this critical point in their lives.

 Webinar on Oral Health

To help address this issue, in late December the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation organized a webinar for the healthcare providers we partner with through our First Breath, My Baby & Me and GrapeVine Programs. During this presentation, Dr. Kevin DeGroot, DDS, addressed the connections that exist between oral health, pregnancy, and other health concerns. Dr. DeGroot also offered practical suggestions on ways for prenatal care providers to start the conversation about this important issue.

Thank You!

We want to extend a sincere thanks to Dr. DeGroot for sharing his time and expertise with us. We also wanted to send a thanks to Delta Dental for providing a grant which has made educational opportunities like this presentation possible. For those interested in viewing this presentation, an archived version can be found on our YouTube channel.



GrapeVine Project Nurse Saves Her 5th Grade Teacher’s Life

Stacy Schmitt

Not many students get the opportunity to save their teacher’s life. Three decades later, that is exactly what Stacy Schmitt did for her 5th grade teacher.

Stacy became a GrapeVine Project nurse in 2013 and returned to her hometown of Beaver Dam to present a heart health for women seminar which your donations helped create.

In the audience at Stacy’s first GrapeVine presentation was her 5th grade teacher, Mrs. McCarthy.

Mrs. McCarthy attended the seminar looking for some information on living healthier and a tip or two on losing weight.

The information Stacy imparted, provided through your support, saved Mrs. McCarthy’s life a month later.

Mrs. McCarthy regularly worked out at an exercise class.

However, returning home from her workout several weeks after the GrapeVine presentation, she felt a discomfort in her chest.

Her mind kept returning to the WWHF pamphlet Stacy gave her. The flyer told about heart attack symptoms in women and what to do if you experience them.

The pamphlet advised her to go to the hospital, where she drove herself, concerned but still uncertain regarding her condition.

What she learned was that she was indeed suffering a heart attack—a big one with 100% vessel blockage on the right side, 85% on the left.

Two stents repaired her heart but it was you who saved her life.

The materials and programming your support provided gave Mrs. McCarthy a next chapter in life. After 30 years of teaching, she now has ample time to visit her children and grandchildren across the country.

Please continue your support with a gift to the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.

Make a gift today.

Common Medications and Your Oral Health

Tooth; Flickr Creative Commons P.S. Sahana

Flickr Creative Commons, P. S. Sahana

Prescription drugs have increased both our quality of life and longevity – so much so, over 70% of Americans take at least one daily prescription. Doctors and pharmacists counsel patients on potential side effects, but often the most mundane-sounding issues can cause long-term problems.

Consider dry mouth – it’s not life-threatening, and in fact, rarely becomes a noticeable problem. But lower saliva production can lead to cavities that develop more quickly and deeper into the root; this is because saliva is essential to continually rinse the teeth and wash away residue from food and drink. Over 400 prescriptions can cause dry mouth, including hypertension treatment drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, asthma medications, antibiotics, and diuretics.

Another overlooked side effect comes from antihypertensives (drugs to treat high blood pressure), which can cause swelling and overgrowth of the gums. Gums are a crucial part of a healthy mouth and teeth, but swelling and overgrowth can lead to gum disease, bleeding, and pain.

It may seem unnecessary to share your use of prescription drugs with your dentist, especially when they’re for sensitive health issues like incontinence, mental health, or sexually transmitted infections. Even sharing short-term medication use, such as hormone, antibiotics, and allergy medications, may seem excessive. But your dentist can only give you the best care and recommendations if they know what is affecting your oral health. At your next scheduled checkup, talk with your doctor about the medications you take (including painkillers and other over the counter drugs) so you can make sure your mouth gets the treatment it deserves – that is to say, the best!


Further reading:




American Diabetes Month

Join the American Diabetes Association to put good food and good health on the table during American Diabetes Month this November. Whether you are one of the nearly 30 million Americans living with diabetes or the 86 million Americans with prediabetes, or you simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, the Eat Well, America! campaign will show you how easy and joyful healthy eating can be for everyone in Wisconsin.

American Diabetes MonthEach week during November, the Association will share nutritious recipes selected by noted chefs and cookbook authors for every meal of the day, including snacks and special occasion treats. Not only that, but the Association will teach Americans how to choose, prepare, serve and eat healthy food that is both delicious and nutritious. From tip sheets to shopping lists, we’ll help make healthy eating a fun and easy part of daily life.

Looking to prepare a healthy Thanksgiving Day meal? The Association will include seasonal recipes and tips to ensure you don’t miss out on the autumn and holiday flavors you love.

“Eating well is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and enjoying delicious, healthy food helps with diabetes management,” says the Association. “As we marks our 75th anniversary, we want to give people the tools they need to achieve health and wellness every single day.”

For more information, visit diabetesforecast.org/adm or call 1-800-DIABETES for meal planning, shopping tips, grocery lists, chef’s preparation secrets, delicious recipes and more.

healthy meal

Trick or Treat, Protect Your Teeth!

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it, costumes and candy and…cavities? Use these tricks to protect your teeth – and your children’s – while indulging in Halloween treats:


photo by WWHF’s Emily TT Sullivan

  • Avoid chewy, sticky candy like taffy or caramels. These leave residue between the teeth that is impossible for saliva to clean away. Try hard candies instead.
  • Drink lots of water with sour candies. The more sour the candy, the more acidic – and harmful. The acid in sour candies eats away at tooth enamel. Important to note: wait at least 30 minutes after eating sour candy to brush your teeth, or else your toothbrush will just be spreading the acid over more tooth surface and causing more damage.
  • Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Dark chocolate, with its healthy antioxidants, has less sugar.
  • Reach for plain chocolate over chocolate with caramel, nuts, and other fillings. Chocolate in general is better for teeth than other candies because it dissolves quickly – with sticky fillings, however, comes a greater risk for sugar becoming trapped between teeth.
  • Try sugar-free candy. Your kids won’t be able to tell the difference – but their teeth will!

Gus's B-Day 2



And the best way to protect teeth from decay? Brush for two minutes, twice a day. Keep those pearly whites  clean and bright, and have a happy, healthy, and fun Halloween!

Bonus: Check out Delta Dental’s interactive Halloween Fun Page: The Original Tooth Fairy Poll.



Adapted from: “Delta Dental Names Best and Worst Halloween Treats for Teeth.” Delta Dental News Room. 31 October 2013.



A Woman’s Mouth Matters – Oral Health with Dr. Gundersen

The health of the mouth is intimately connected to the health of the rest of the body. It’s the beginning of the digestive system and the respiratory system, and plays an important role in eating, drinking, breathing, tasting, talking, and kissing. Yet only 60-70% of adults seek routine dental care. In his presentation on “Oral Health: A Woman’s Mouth Matters” at the Gathering in September, Dr. David Gundersen, DDS, MPH (First Choice Dental, Fitchburg) stressed the importance of understanding the risks associated with poor oral health, explored Oral Health 101, and described easy ways to attain and maintain good dental hygiene.


Says Dr. Gundersen, “Of the 8 common risk factors of poor health, 7 directly affect our oral health. Diet, stress, the amount of control we have over our lives, hygiene, smoking, alcohol use, and injuries can all adversely affect our mouth, gums, and teeth, as well as other organs in our bodies. Even the eighth risk, lack of exercise, indirectly affects our oral health by contributing to our overall health. Keeping your mouth healthy helps keep the rest of your body healthy.” Health concerns such as diabetes, endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining), osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases are particularly detrimental to oral health, and vice versa.

Thankfully, good oral health is easily attainable through four simple steps:


1. Brush twice a day for two minutes.

Remember, it’s not how hard you brush, but how long. Dr. Gundersen recommends using a timer or a watch to make sure you brush for two minutes – it’s longer than you think! “Tu-tu” is especially easy for kids to remember, and it’s incredibly important to stress good oral health habits to children: 42% of children 2-11 years old have cavities, and 80% of youth will have experienced cavities and oral decay by High School. Additionally, 1 in 3 children is living with untreated dental decay in the U.S., which leads to 54 million school hours missed annually.

2. Floss – be stalked by it!

Floss at least once a day. Link it to something you do every day, such as when your coffee is brewing or while watching the morning news, and leave floss around the house, in your car, and at work.

3. Eat a healthy diet.

Limit your consumption of sugary drinks, or make sure to drink a glass of water after soda, coffee, and sweet treats to wash away any remaining sugar residue. Eat foods good for your bones and tooth enamel – those high in calcium and Vitamin D. And as always, limit tobacco and alcohol – two of the biggest risk factors for gingivitis, tooth decay, and oral cancers.

4. Get regular dental checkups.

Don’t wait for an emergency! Your dentist can detect oral health issues before they become bigger problems. For example, more than 400 commonly used drugs can cause xerostomia, or dry mouth. A dryer mouth means less saliva to help clean teeth, and therefore increases your risk for cavities and gingivitis. Your dentist can explain techniques for increasing your mouth’s saliva output, or recommend alternative medications without a dry mouth side effect. Additionally, oral cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the Unites States. It often starts as a small white or red spot or sore in the mouth and occurs most often in smokers or people who use any other forms of tobacco or alcohol, but the fastest growing cause of oral cancer is HPV. Often, these tumors are hard to detect and can only be found early enough for successful treatment by a thorough oral exam.

That’s it. Brush, floss, eat healthy, and visit your dentist for better oral health – and better health for the rest of your body, which is certainly something to smile about!

African American Mom and Son Brushing Teeth

14th Annual Gathering


Each year, WWHF partners with Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, WI to hold “The Gathering.” Since 2002, the Gathering has provided women an opportunity to meet old and new friends, view exhibits, and access information and resources they need to be healthy. This free event is designed to engage and energize attendees, teach new information that can be applied in real life, and help women set personal health goals. Participants learn to become better advocates for their, and their families’, health in a way that allows them to create balance, wholeness, and wellness in body, mind, and spirit. Over 120 people attended this year’s Gathering, themed, “Connecting the Dots: From Clinical Trials to Healthy Lifestyles.”


Panelists, from left: Dr. Laura Strong, Sharon Brigner, Lori Weigel, and Sara Planton.

Vanessa Freitag, Vice President of Ministry Health Care, welcomed the attendees to the 14th Annual Gathering. The event opened with Sharon Brigner, MS, RN, Deputy Vice President of State Advocacy at PhRMA, one of the nation’s largest leading biopharmaceutical researchers and biotechnology companies. Ms. Brigner shared PhRMA’s “Research in Your Backyard” report and introduced the “Clinical Trials & Women in Clinical Research” panel, for which she was joined by Sara Planton, BSN, CCRC; Dr. Laura Strong, PhD; and Lori Weigel, MBA, CCRP, CHRC.

Ms. Planton, Director of Clinical Trails at Aurora Research Institute, spoke about clinical trials and focused on general population participation in them. Participation in clinical trials helps to advance medical knowledge and increases awareness of the need for research. And anyone is eligible to participate – especially women of all ages. For decades, clinical trials used mainly men in research and generalized the results for women; today, science has a better understanding of the biological differences between males and females, and researchers are actively encouraging women to join in.

Dr. Strong, President & COO of Quintessence Bioscience, Inc., explained more about new drug discovery and development. The majority of drugs do not make it through the four stages of laboratory testing, let alone to non-clinical and human clinical testing, which is why drug development is so costly and time-consuming.

Ms. Weigel, Administrator at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation & Research Center and Biomedical Informatics Research Center Analyzing Drugs (BIRC), discussed data analysis and the final stages of drug development. Teams analyze criteria and statistics from physicians and document data trends before presenting their results to the International Review Board (IRB). The IRB then determines validation of the research findings and the possible extent of improvement on healthcare quality, delivery, and education.

Eliz Greene talks about the balls that women juggle in life…including the unexpected chainsaw thrown in the mix!

The next speaker, Eliz Greene, presented “Juggling Stress” – improving daily health for busy women. Ms. Greene became a motivational speaker and champion for women’s heart health after surviving a massive heart attack, the premature cesarean delivery of her twin daughters, and open heart surgery all on the same day. She encouraged participants to learn to say “no” and to add simple physical activity to their daily lives – including getting the entire audience up on their feet to dance to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.


After lunch and activities led by WWHF staff, Dr. David Gundersen, DDS, MPH, closed the conference with his presentation on women’s oral health. He stressed the importance of good dental hygiene as the mouth is one of the major access points to the rest of the body. Additionally, he explained the four main pillars of good oral health:

  1. Brush twice a day for two minutes.
  2. Floss once a day.
  3. Eat healthy.
  4. See the dentist regularly.

The Gathering closed with raffle drawings for door prizes, distribution of free WWHF 2016 calendars, and time for feedback. Attendees reported:

“It was all great information – we are never too old to learn new information. But I really enjoyed it all – thanks so much!!”

“I appreciate the opportunity to learn about taking better care of myself from professionals.”

 “I didn’t think I would be interested in the Clinical Trials Panel – but I was fascinated. I

 enjoyed the quality of the speakers and the diversity of topics.”

 “I enjoyed most gathering together for women’s health issues – and I always learn something new.”

“I’m thankful that women can come to a wonderful conference such as this…and I’m proud to see so many women holding high positions!”

“Excellent speakers every year! Thank you so much!”


Sue Richards, RN, BSN, FCN, leads a hula hoop exercise activity with attendees.

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Gathering a wonderful success, and we look forward seeing you next year!


World Alzheimer’s Month

September is a good month to think about healthy aging – it’s both Healthy Aging Month and World Alzheimer’s Month. And as Wisconsinites, it’s a good idea to think about healthy aging year-round. While millennials (anyone born after 1980) outnumber baby boomers nationwide, Wisconsin is one of a few states that have more baby boomers than millennials.  And according to an article from Wisconsin Public Radio, “new data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows the population of Wisconsinites over the age of 55 has grown nearly 15 percent since the last U.S. census, and experts say Wisconsin is on track to continue aging faster than most of the nation.”

Marcia Isherwood, RN, a nurse partner with WWHF's GrapeVine Project, teaches a session on the Healthy Aging Brain to almost 150 retirees at the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee,

Marcia Isherwood, RN, a nurse partner with WWHF’s GrapeVine Project, teaches a session on the Healthy Aging Brain to almost 150 retirees at the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.

The good news is that researchers continue to make leaps and bounds in research on the aging brain. From Health Day: “New cutting-edge technology reveals that as you age, your brain becomes less and less capable of flushing away a toxic waste product of brain activity called beta-amyloid, the researchers said. Beta-amyloid proteins can clump together, forming larger amyloid plaques in the spaces between neurons. These amyloid plaques are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.”  You can read more from that article here.

Another recent article explores new insight into why people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. “People with type 2 diabetes may be more prone to developing the brain “tangles” associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests. The study found that people with type 2 diabetes had a greater accumulation of brain tangles — even if they were free of dementia or milder problems with memory and thinking.”

For more information, visit the new Aging.Gov website, inaugurated at the White House Conference on Aging in July. The conference, held every ten years since President Eisenhower hosted the first Conference on Aging in 1961, brought together the country’s leaders in healthy aging to discuss what the next decade holds for older Americans. Or visit Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services Aging and Disability Resource Center for local resources, statistics, and information.

Program Highlight: the GrapeVine Project


The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation partners with nurses throughout the state by providing them with the most up-to-date tools and educational information about various health topics through our program The GrapeVine Project.  All information presented is gathered from local state and national organizations with expertise in the specific health area, and is continually reviewed by medical advisors and partner organizations to ensure the most current information is shared. GrapeVine sessions teach participants about risk factors, symptoms, prevention, lifestyle changes and resources to lead a healthy life.  Nurses can provide sessions in businesses, homes, churches, community centers, libraries, and other public locations.  All participants receive a small gift at the end of each session. Almost 7,500 women have participated in GrapeVine Educational Sessions since 2002.

GrapeVine Partners receive:

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  1. Free orientation and trainings on 10 health units.
  2. Free PowerPoint presentations on a flash drive, a presenter’s unit binder, handout, resources, and incentives for every session they teach.
  3. Quarterly assistance calls.
  4. A monthly e-newsletter with links to current articles, monthly observances, and bulletin board materials to put up in churches or workplaces.
  5. Opportunities to attend Meet & Eat appreciation luncheons and the Annual Conference in Madison.


Women who attend GrapeVine Project sessions:

          1. Increase their knowledge of specific health topics and issues
          2. Learn about risk factors, symptoms, prevention, and early intervention
          3. Learn about lifestyle changes to improve their overall health and well-being
          4. Increase their awareness and improve access to local health resources and services
          5. Receive helpful and health-conscious gifts at the end of the session
          6. Make a connection with a local healthcare provider – their GrapeVine nurse!


What next?

If you are a current GrapeVine partner:

Please come to a Meet & Eat this fall or winter! This is a chance for us at GrapeVine to thank you for all the work you do, treat you to a free lunch, and bring you updated materials for units you’ve already been trained in. Lunch is 12:15-2:00PM at the following locations:

  • Black & Tan Grille, Green Bay (September 14)
  • United Community Center’s Café el Sol, Milwaukee (October 1)
  • Casa Mexicana, Rice Lake (November 16)
  • EPIC Systems Campus, Verona (December 3)

There will also be a training for the Healthy Aging Brain unit before lunch for new partners and current partners alike. If you haven’t been trained in this unit, or were trained in it before the 2014 update, please join us to learn more about different types of dementia, dementia medications, caregiver stress, and diagnosis and treatment. The unit training will be from 10:15-11:30AM and the Dementia Medications update will be from 11:45-12:15PM. We will order lunch during the 15-minute break. The locations for the trainings will be:

  • Black & Tan Grille, Green Bay (September 14)
  • United Community Center’s Café el Sol, Milwaukee (October 1)
  • Rice Lake Public Library, Rice Lake (November 16) (We will walk together as a group to the restaurant for lunch following the training.)
  • EPIC Systems Campus, Verona (December 3)

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER (for current partners only)

If you, or someone you know, is interested in joining GrapeVine:

Do you know someone who would make a great GrapeVine partner? Invite them to register for an orientation! The Orientation will occur before the Healthy Aging Brain training and Partner Meet & Eat from 9:30-10:15AM at the same locations as the trainings:

  • Black & Tan Grille, Green Bay (September 14)
  • United Community Center’s Café el Sol, Milwaukee (October 1)
  • Rice Lake Public Library, Rice Lake (November 16)
  • EPIC Systems Campus, Verona (December 3)

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER (link for new partners only)

Contact Mary Quandt (mquandt@wwhf.org), Program Outreach Specialist, with any questions at 608.251.1675, ext. 105, or 800.448.5148, ext. 105