March 2024

Mark Your Calendar!

WCHQ Education Event Dates

WCHQ Maternal Health and Immunizations Assembly to take place May 7 in Madison
Registration Open

Erica Olivier, B.A., M.S., Deputy Commissioner of Community Health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department

Registration is now open for the WCHQ maternal health and immunizations seminar. With the theme, “Driving Change: Education and Awareness for Immunizations and Maternal Mortality in High-Risk Communities,” the event will take place Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Madison, Wisconsin.

“There is a stark statistic that leads our work around maternal health, which is that 97% of pregnancy-related deaths in Wisconsin could be prevented,” reported WCHQ President/CEO Gabrielle Rude, PhD. “The protection of our vulnerable moms, as well as sharing ways to increase education around immunizations, makes this event extremely valuable to our state’s healthcare systems.”

The keynote speaker will be Erica Olivier, B.A., M.S, Deputy Commissioner of Community Health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department. Additional event topics include:

  • Data driven approaches to reducing maternal mortality and increasing immunization rates.
  • Implementing solutions for safety and equity for mom and baby.
  • Collaboration of health system and area food pantry delivering food to new families.
  • Education and data around vaccines that are new or lower uptake.
  • Community health worker perspective on barriers they see to getting immunizations.

Event details and registration information are available on the WCHQ website. Employees of WCHQ member organizations may attend the event free of charge. The registration fee for attendees not affiliated with a WCHQ member organization is $80. Registration is requested by April 29, 2024.

Upcoming Events

For more details, or to register for an event, click on the event title

April 30

Webinar - "Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Toolkit Launch”

Margaret Hennessy, MD will explain the importance of building trust, message delivery, listening to patient/parent concerns and providing accurate resources as parents make immunization decisions. She will also walk through WCHQ’s Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Toolkit for Primary Care and explain how to use it in a care setting.

Funding provided in part by Wisconsin Department of Health Services Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Title V MCH Block Grant

May 15

Webinar - "Asthma Efforts Across Wisconsin: Showcase of Programs Making an Impact”

Topics and speakers include:

  • “Wisconsin’s Asthma-Safe Homes Program: Outcomes from Year One,” presented by Meridith Mueller, MPH, Evaluation Specialist and Molly Zemke, MPH, Program Manager, Wisconsin Asthma-Safe Homes Program
  • “Results of a Pharmacist-Provided Asthma-Related Medication Therapy Management Program” presented by Kari Trapskin, PharmD, Senior Vice President, Practice Transformation, Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin
  • “Building the Capacity of Wisconsin’s Healthcare Professionals to Manage Asthma (and COPD)” presented by Jill Heins-Nesvold, MS, Nationwide Senior Director Health Systems Improvement, American Lung Association
  • “The Wisconsin Asthma Coalition: Working Together to Take Control of Asthma” presented by Carissa Hoium, MPH, Environmental Health Program Leader, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin

Funding provided in part by the Cooperative Agreement from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Wisconsin Asthma Program

Mark Your Calendars!

Chronic Diseases Assembly – August 15, 2024
DoubleTree by Hilton Madison East, Madison, WI

Statewide Quality Improvement Event – November 7, 2024
DoubleTree by Hilton Madison East, Madison, WI

President’s Report

Gabrielle Rude, PhD, President/CEO

In preparation for our 20th anniversary celebration this year, I spent time evaluating WCHQ’s values. I wanted to make sure that the values accurately described what a customer or new staff member could expect to experience when interacting with WCHQ. Multiple wordsmithing and staff feedback sessions later, I realized that we needed more than values listed on a website to define our culture, we needed to define and actively practice the behaviors that define WCHQ.

In the absence of a deliberate program to define and continually practice the behaviors that you expect, the informal leaders of an organization will emerge to orient others on “how it's really done around here.” A policy on the shelf cannot independently override the norms and behaviors that make up an organizational culture. We, therefore, developed a program to deliberately define and actively practice our culture. We want to share our work and learnings - both to help others build deliberate cultures in their organizations and to spread the WCHQ culture within our membership so together we can achieve our mission of improving care for all people.

A core component of deliberate culture building is to review the behavioral expectations in our work on an ongoing basis. Each week the WCHQ staff reviews one of our behaviors and this month we extended that practice to our Board of Directors. The March board meeting opened with an exercise related to the week’s featured behavior, Listen Generously. Board members were asked to answer a question about listening but begin their answer with the last letter from the previous speaker’s answer. It seems like a silly exercise, but this type of grounding can be very effective in getting everyone engaged. We use the same technique in our weekly internal huddles where staff members rotate leading the huddles and providing a grounding related to one of our expected behaviors.

Listen Generously: Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” Be present and engaged. Quiet the noise in your head and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Create space for team members to express themselves without judgement. Listen with care and with empathy. Above all, listen to understand.

Going forward, more information about WCHQ’s deliberate culture building will be available on our website and LinkedIn page. We encourage questions and are happy to share more details of our journey to define behaviors that will build a culture that will take our organization from good to great.

SPOTLIGHT: 20 Years Of Measuring and Improvement: Colorectal Cancer Screening

As WCHQ celebrates its 20th anniversary, and with March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we review the progress made increasing colorectal cancer screenings.

The Colorectal Cancer Screening measure was among the first publicly reported measures selected at to help mitigate the effect of one of the most common cancers among both men and women. Research has shown that screenings are associated with decreasing new cases of colorectal cancer by as much as 69% and decreasing related deaths by 88%.

From 2005 through 2019, colorectal cancer screening rates increased annually by an average of 1.9% (increasing from 61.9% to 79.5%) for WCHQ members. During that same span, the number of members reporting on CRC screenings increased from 12 to 26 members, while the number of patients eligible for the measure increased by 127% (520,539 patients to 1,181,724 patients). The effort from WCHQ members helped Wisconsin move from ranking 22nd among states in age-adjusted CRC deaths per capita to 11th (CDC Cancer Trends).

As observed with A1c control and blood pressure control, COVID-19 had a negative effect on both the number of eligible patients reported and the overall screening rates for colorectal cancer screening. Screening rates declined for four consecutive reporting periods from June 2020 through December 2022. WCHQ members have now bucked that trend, increasing rates by a full percentage point (76.8% to 77.8%) with the most recently reported data ending in June of 2023.

Looking ahead, WCHQ will be expanding this measure to include patients starting at age 45 instead of age 50 for Spring 2024 public reporting. This change will increase the number of eligible patients by an estimated 11.5%. Initial data shows WCHQ members have already been making an effort to screen these patients, increasing screening rates from 23.3% to 48.6% between 2022 and 2023.

Members of the WCHQ Colorectal Cancer Screening Improvement Team are sharing strategies to reach patients ages 45-55 and educate them about screening. Examples of tactics include ensuring everyone in the clinic is able to talk about colorectal cancer screening, from reception to the provider and utilizing colorectal cancer screening rates as an incentive for provider compensation.

Dr. Jennifer Weiss, Gastroenterologist at UW Health, Associate Professor at UW Madison and member of the WCHQ Colorectal Cancer Screening Improvement Team, shared new research published in “Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology” that confirms the increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in individuals <50 years old. It also shows, "an increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in adults ages 50-54 years old." This reminds us of the importance to improve screening rates not only in the 45-50 age group, but also 50-55 age group.  

WCHQ members interested in learning more, or joining the Colorectal Cancer Screening Improvement Team, should contact

Funding for WCHQ’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Improvement Team is provided in part by Exact Sciences.

Member Profile

In recognition of the WCHQ 20th anniversary in 2024, we are planning a member profile each month.

Member Name: Bellin Health

Member Background: Bellin is a founding member of WCHQ. While Bellin is legally a region of the Bellin and Gundersen Health System formed in December 2022, Bellin maintains a separate WCHQ membership and has unique representatives from the Bellin Region engaged in the WCHQ work and measurement.  

Number of Providers: There are 450+ providers in the Bellin region of Bellin Gundersen Health System

Member of WCHQ Since: 2004

Chris Elfner, Vice President, Clinically Integrated Network, Bellin Region, Bellin Gundersen Health System

Current Quality Goals: “We are using WCHQ as our “True North Star” for benchmarking of our ambulatory quality metrics,” said Chris Elfner, Vice President, Clinically Integrated Network. “Our priority goals are Breast Cancer Screening, Well Child Visits 0-15 months, Colorectal Cancer Screening and Controlling High Blood Pressure.”

WCHQ Engagement: Bellin physicians and staff of several different roles are active members on the quality improvement teams and advisory committees participating in the development of new measures, best practice toolkits and presentation of that work at WCHQ events. Bellin is represented on the WCHQ Board of Directors by Elfner.    

How WCHQ has Impacted Healthcare at Bellin: “WCHQ provides us the opportunity to network with our colleagues locally and nationally on current best practices, pushing ourselves through transparency of public reporting to provide better value of care for our patients and communities we serve,” Elfner said.

WCHQ Celebrates National Kidney Month with the Launch of the Chronic Kidney Disease Toolkit

Just in time for National Kidney Month, WCHQ recently launched its Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Toolkit. The toolkit equips primary care providers with the necessary knowledge and tools for early identification and treatment of kidney disease. Over 150 WCHQ members and other stakeholders participated in the launch, a webinar held on February 27.

Dr. Bret Pasiuk, a nephrologist with SSM Health, shed light on the prevalence of kidney disease, stressing the critical importance of early detection. He described various CKD treatment options for primary care providers and provided insights on effectively communicating with patients about CKD. To aid in these discussions, he shared a helpful heat map for reference of understanding disease staging and progression.

Dr. Pasiuk underscored the significance of screening and treating patients with diabetes, elaborating on what he termed the "four pillars" of effective management. He issued a challenge to all healthcare professionals to adhere closely to screening guidelines and ensure timely identification of CKD for more effective treatment outcomes. To support these efforts, he encouraged the utilization of the CKD in Primary Care Toolkit, urging health systems to leverage this valuable resource.

If CKD is an area of interest for your organization, and you would like to participate in the WCHQ CKD Improvement Team, contact Jen Koberstein at

Importance of Perinatal Mental Health Resources for Moms

One in five women experience postpartum depression, anxiety or another perinatal mental health disorder. Sarah Bloomquist, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Moms Mental Health Initiative (MMHI), spoke to WCHQ’s Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Improvement Team about her non-profit organization to provide health systems with another perinatal mental health resource for their providers and patients.

"My co-founder and I started this organization so other moms wouldn't have to struggle to find the help they needed while suffering as a new mom," said Sarah. Sarah brings lived experience to her work, breaking down barriers to effective treatment and helping moms find hope in the process.

Health systems see a very high demand for mental health patients and may have months-long wait lists.

“Moms can't wait,” Sara said. “If someone is in the throes of a perinatal mental health condition, they need help right away. Moms Mental Health Initiative acts as a bridge in the gap between those struggling with perinatal mental health conditions and the quality care they need and deserve. This care includes evidence-based treatment options, like therapy and medication, but also peer support, which has proven to increase the effectiveness of clinical approaches and help people thrive."

As noted in Wisconsin’s Maternal Mortality Review Team Recommendation Report from 2018, all women should be screened for mental health issues and suicide risks before, during and after pregnancy. It is also important to gain access to resources such as MMHI and other perinatal mental health services in a timely fashion.

To join WCHQ’s Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Improvement Team, contact Lori Bue at  For additional information about MMHI, visit their website.

New Social Determinants of Health Resource Tool

The WCHQ Disparities Improvement Team has identified connecting patients with community resources as a priority to reduce health disparities. Recently, the United Way of Wisconsin presented their new resource, Wisconsin Information Referral Exchange (WIRE), to the improvement team. WIRE connects people with resources through their healthcare providers and can be used for things such as housing, food, clothing, or rides to medical appointments and referrals from healthcare providers.

WIRE leverages the locally curated resources of 211 Wisconsin, and the support and expertise of United Way of Wisconsin. Individuals can call or text 211 or access the service from the 211 website. WIRE can also integrate with electronic health records so that health care professionals can make referrals and receive feedback on which resources were provided. WCHQ members are encouraged to connect with WIRE to explore integration with the platform. 

To join or learn more about WCHQ’s Disparities Improvement Team, contact Renee Sutkay at

Thank to Our WCHQ Partners for Their Support of Our Work


Novo Nordisk






AboutHealth • The Alliance • Alliance of Health Insurers (AHI)

Bayer • Business Health Care Group • Epic • Exact Sciences

GSK • Health Payment Systems • MetaStar • Moderna

Otsuka  • Rogers Behavioral Health

Sanofi • WellStack • Wipfli • Wisconsin Hospital Association