Friday, November 13, 2015

The Health Insurance Marketplace is Open!

The 2016 enrollment period for health insurance has begun.  Visit the site at to apply for a 2016 health insurance plan, renew your current plan, or pick a different plan.  Each of the plans include prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental and/or substance disorders to help with recovery planning.  Go online today.  December 15, 2015 is the last day to enroll if you want coverage to begin January 1, 2016.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Have a Safe & Fun Halloween!

As your little ghosts and goblins are getting prepared for this weekend's Trick or Treating, here are some simple rules to ensure everyone stays safe:
  • Take your child Trick or Treating.  Don't let young children go out alone.
  • Have your children wear costumes that have reflective material in them or have them carry a flashlight so they can be seen when it gets dark outside.
  • Only stop at homes where the lights are on and you know the people who live there.
  • Inspect all treats after arriving home to make sure they are OK for your kids to eat and you know what they've received.
  • Brush teeth before calling it a night!  Your children's teeth need a good brush after all that sugar.
Enjoy the festivities in your neighborhood and enjoy mingling with your neighbors.  Halloween can be a fun night for everyone!

Friday, August 7, 2015







Date:      August 4, 2015

From:     Susan Lorenz R.N. M.S. Health Officer

Phone:    608-742-9265



Columbia County Health and Human Services has been awarded an $11,509.00 Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile grant from the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.  The Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile Program is a statewide dental sealant program that offers grants to local school-based programs targeting underserved children in schools with a free and reduced hot lunch (FRL) of greater than 35%.


Thirteen school buildings in seven different school districts qualified for the grant in Columbia County:


1)      Cambria Friesland Elementary School

2)      Cambria Friesland Middle School

 3)   Fall River Elementary School

 4)   Pardeeville Middle School

 5)   Portage Rusch Elementary School

 6)   Portage Lewiston Elementary School

 7)   Portage John Muir Elementary School  

 8)   Portage Wayne Bartels Middle School

 9)   Randolph Elementary School

 10) Rio Elementary School

 11) Rio Middle School

 12) Wisconsin Dells Spring Hill Elementary School

 13) Wisconsin Dells Spring Hill Middle School


Columbia County Health and Human Services has contracted with Cindy Seubert, Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) to provide and coordinate the Columbia County Seal-A-Smile services while the child is in school. With this funding, dental screenings to at least 670 children and dental sealants to at least 540 children will be provided. This program is not meant to be a substitution for regular dental visits.


What will the Columbia County Seal-A-Smile program offer?

·         FREE sealants

·         FREE fluoride varnish

·         FREE tooth brushing instructions and oral health education

·         FREE toothbrush and toothpaste

·         A letter sent home explaining what services were done and suggestions for further treatment





What is a sealant?

·         A sealant is a thin, tooth colored, plastic coating that is painted on a tooth to help prevent cavities from forming

·         Your child will be checked to determine which teeth can have sealants, sealants will be done that same day

What if your child already has sealants?

·         The Registered Dental Hygienist will check your child’s sealants, and replace or repair those that may no longer be there

What is a fluoride varnish?

·         A fluoride varnish is topical gel that is painted onto the teeth, making them stronger

Did you know?

·         In the US alone, children miss about 52 million hours of school each year because of oral health problems

·         Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can largely affect the ability to learn

·         90% of decay in children’s permanent teeth occurs on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, sealants serve as a physical barrier to the bacteria that cause decay


The Columbia County Seal-A-Smile dental sealant program is available at no charge whether or not your child is covered by dental insurance. The program will bill Medical Assistance or BadgerCare if your child is covered by these programs. 


For more information about the Columbia County Seal-A-Smile dental sealant program, please call Susan Lorenz R.N. Columbia County Health Officer at 608-742-9227 or e-mail at





Wednesday, August 5, 2015


RAISE:  Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act

Family caregivers are the most important source of support for people with chronic or other health conditions, disabilities, or functional limitations. Millions of family caregivers help their loved ones live at home and in their communities, providing the bulk of this assistance. In 2013, about 40 million family caregivers provided unpaid care valued at about $470 billion to adults who needed help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and transportation, more than total Medicaid spending that year.1  According to Caregiving in the US 2015, about 3.7 million family caregivers provided care to a child under age 18 because of a medical, behavioral, or other condition or disability and 6.5 million family caregivers assisted both adults and children.2  Estimates show 3.5 million individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) live with family caregivers, of whom over 850,000 are age 60+.3


What do family caregivers do? 

Family caregivers help with activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, transportation, and managing finances; perform medical/nursing tasks such as wound care and managing multiple, complex medications; arrange and coordinate care among multiple providers and settings; and pay for services to help their loved ones, such as home modifications, transportation, or a home care aide. The assistance family caregivers provide saves taxpayer dollars, helps to delay or prevent their loved ones from needing more costly nursing home care, and helps prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions.  Family caregivers spend an average of 18 hours a week caring for their loved one;4 almost one-third of family caregivers provide an average of 62 hours of care a week.5


What challenges do family caregivers face?  

Family caregivers take on physical, emotional, and financial challenges. They commonly experience emotional strain and mental health problems, especially depression, and have poorer physical health than noncaregivers.6 Family caregivers generally do not receive training and other assistance to help them provide care.7 Too often family caregivers aren’t even recognized and included, as appropriate, by health care and social service providers helping their loved ones. Navigating, locating, and coordinating fragmented services is too often bewildering, complex, and very time consuming. 


Most family caregivers are employed and juggle work and caregiving responsibilities. They often make workplace accommodations because of caregiving, up to and including leaving their jobs.8  Employers have an interest in supporting family caregiver employees so they do not lose talented workers. Family caregivers (age 50 and older) who leave the workforce to care for a parent lose, on average, nearly $304,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetime. These estimates range from $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women.9  In addition, family caregivers may pay out-of-pocket for services whose costs add up over time. 


Family caregivers will only face greater strains in the future as the “caregiver support ratio” – the number of potential family caregivers aged 45-64 for each person aged 80+ - shrinks. In 2010, the ratio was more than seven potential caregivers for every person in the high-risk years of 80-plus. By 2030, this ratio is projected to decline sharply to 4 to 1 and to less than 3 to 1 in 2050.10



Why is a national strategy to support family caregivers important? 

If family caregivers were no longer available, the economic cost to the U.S. health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems would increase astronomically. Our country relies on the contributions family caregivers make and should recognize and support them. Supporting family caregivers helps the caregivers themselves, the millions of individuals who rely on them, and also the economy and the workplaces who benefit from the contributions of family caregivers. AARP urges Congress to enact the

Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers

Act (S. 1719/H.R. 3099) introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Kathy Castor (D-FL). This bill would implement the bipartisan recommendation of the federal Commission on Long-Term Care that Congress require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers, similar in scope to the national strategy developed to address Alzheimer’s disease. 


What would the RAISE Family Caregivers Act do? 
It would require the development, maintenance, and updating of an integrated national strategy to recognize and support family caregivers by the HHS Secretary.  A family caregiver is a relative, partner, friend, or neighbor who has a significant relationship with, and who provides a broad range of assistance for, a person with a chronic or other health condition, disability, or functional limitation. The bill would bring together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and public sectors, such as family caregivers, older adults and persons with disabilities, health care and LTSS providers, employers, relevant industries, state and local officials, and others on an advisory council to advise and make recommendations regarding the national strategy. The advisory council meetings would be open to the public and there would be opportunities for public input. The strategy would identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers, and others can take to recognize and support family caregivers, including with respect to:                                                                                                                              

  • Promoting greater adoption of person-and family-centered care in all health and LTSS settings, with the person and the family caregiver (as appropriate) at the center of care teams; 
  • Assessment and service planning (including care transitions and coordination) involving care recipients and family caregivers; 
  • Training and other supports; 
  • Information, education, referral, and care coordination; 
  • Respite options; 
  • Financial security; 
  • Workplace policies and supports that allow family caregivers to remain in the workforce. 
    There would be 18 months for the development of the initial strategy, followed by annual updates of the strategy. The bill would improve the collection and sharing of information, including related to evidencebased or promising practices and innovative models regarding family caregiving; better coordinate, maximize the effectiveness, and avoid unnecessary duplication of federal government activities to recognize and support family caregivers; assess federal programs around family caregiving; and address disparities and meet the needs of the diverse caregiving population. The strategy and work around it could help support and inform state and local efforts to support family caregivers. 
    AARP urges Congress to enact the RAISE Family Caregivers Act to recognize, assist, include, support, and engage family caregivers! Sooner or later, we’ll all be family caregivers or someone who needs one.  

  1. S. Reinhard, L. Feinberg, R. Choula & A. Houser, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update, Undeniable Progress, but Big Gaps Remain  (AARP PPI, 2015), available at
  2.  National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015: Executive Summary, (June 2015), available at   3
     D. Braddock, Testimony before the Commission on Long-Term Care on Summary of National Trends:  2013 The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities (July 17, 2013) available at 

  1. S. Reinhard, L. Feinberg, R. Choula & A. Houser, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update, Undeniable Progress, but Big Gaps Remain (AARP PPI, 2015). 
  2.  National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, Caregiving in the US 2015: Executive Summary, (June 2015). 
  3. L. Feinberg, S. Reinhard, A. Houser & R. Choula, Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update, The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving (AARP PPI, 2011), available at 
  4. S. Reinhard, C. Levine & S. Samis, Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care (AARP PPI and
  5. L. Feinberg, S. Reinhard, A. Houser & R. Choula, Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update, The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving (AARP PPI, 2011). 
  6.  Data from MetLife Mature Market Institute, The MetLife Study of Caregiving: Costs to Working Caregivers: Double
    Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring For Their Parents (Westport, CT: MetLife Mature Market Institute, 2011), as cited in L. Feinberg & R. Choula, Understanding the Impact of Family Caregiving on Work (AARP PPI, 2012), available at     10  D. Redfoot, L. Feinberg, & A. Houser, The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers (AARP PPI, 2013), available at
     Reprinted from AARP

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Columbia County WIC Program to Introduce Electronic Benefit Card
Date:      August 3, 2015
From:     Susan Lorenz R.N. M.S. Health Officer
Phone:    608-742-9265
Across Wisconsin this summer, local Women, Infant and Children Programs are rolling out new electronic benefit cards or eWIC for participants.
Columbia County WIC Program is set to roll-out August 12th.
The WIC Program is a federally supported food program for children to age 5, infants to one year of age and pregnant or breastfeeding women.  The local WIC program provides pregnant women, infants and children with time to talk with a WIC dietician, support for breastfeeding, help monitoring healthy growth and development and assistance to buy health foods.
About 700 local WIC participants are served each month by Columbia County’s WIC Program and will be affected by the roll-out. 
eWIC has been successfully implemented in several states, with many other states also in the process of transitioning. States that have implemented eWIC noted several improvements to the WIC program, including:
  • Elimination of paper checks has improved the shopping experience for WIC participants
  • Electronic approval of WIC items has improved the check-out experience for cashiers
  • Electronic payment processing has improved the reconciliation process for retail vendors
  • eWIC issuance of benefits has streamlines the process in the WIC clinic
    The statewide decision to implement eWIC comes from The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The act expanded several nutrition assistance, including WIC. It also orders that State WIC food benefits change from a paper-based benefit “check” to an electronic benefit card by October 1, 2020.
    To learn more about WIC, call 608-742-9254 or visit

Friday, May 22, 2015

May is National Foster Care Month! 


All children — including the 27 children and youth in foster care and 46 children in relative or “Kinship” placements currently in Columbia County — deserve a safe, happy life. Young people in foster care especially need nurturing adults on their side because their own families are in crisis and unable to care for them.


Each May, we salute the compassionate people who make a difference by serving as foster parents and relative caregivers. Thanks to these unsung heroes, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will safely reunite with their parents, be cared for by relatives, or be adopted by loving families.

In Wisconsin, more than 5,100 families are currently licensed foster care providers.

On average, 7,000 children in the state of Wisconsin will be placed with these foster families. On a typical day, approximately 8,000 children are living with foster families. The amount of time a child stays in foster care can vary from as little as a few days to a number of years. Most children in foster care will return home in less than three months, however some children are still in foster care after two years.


Columbia County Health and Human Services is actively seeking foster parents interested in providing a structured, stable, and loving home for children of all ages both long and short-term. Columbia County adolescents (ages 10-18 years) are in the greatest need of individuals/families to care for them.


Training is provided for families committed to becoming licensed as a foster home. Foster parents are compensated through a monthly payment that is based on the needs of each particular child.


You CAN make a difference in the life of a child!!


Please contact Kelsi Bishop at (608) 742-9245 for more information and to apply.



Thursday, April 30, 2015




May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Dine at Culver’s on 5/11 to Support Prevent Suicide Columbia County


Date:      April 28, 2015

From:     Susan Lorenz, R.N., M.S., Health Officer

Phone:    608-742-9265


May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Millions of Americans live with a mental health condition.  According to the Surgeon General, one in every five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year and half of all Americans have such disorders at some time in their lives. These illnesses of the brain affect all people, regardless of age, gender, economic status or ethnicity.  In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront of our nation’s thoughts.

Locally, Prevent Suicide Columbia County will celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month in partnership with Culver’s of Portage.  Dine at Culver’s (2733 New Pinery Rd. in Portage) on Monday, May 11 from 5-8pm, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Prevent Suicide Columbia County and its local suicide prevention initiatives, which include QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Suicide Prevention training, public service announcements via billboard and video, an annual Dinner for Hope (Saturday, May 2, 2015) and annual Walk for Hope (September, 2015). 


“We appreciate all the local support,” says Sara Jesse, facilitator of Prevent Suicide Columbia County.  “Our donation night at Culver’s not only helps raise funds for local suicide prevention activities, but also raises awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all.” 


For more information, please visit or contact Sara Jesse at or (608) 432-3042.