Senior news — When it comes to health care sometimes bigger isn’t better

IRON MOUNTAIN — The need for quality healthcare does not wait for our retirement years, but it does increase as we age. And the importance of easily accessible healthcare increases as well because travel becomes more difficult when we get older. I mention this because it is really important for all of us to realize that we have healthcare that is both high quality and accessible right in our own backyard.

Right about now, you are probably remembering that I retired from our local hospital after 28 years of working in public relations… so, of course, I am going to make this claim. Let me tell you a story — then you be the judge for yourselves.

My husband and I are caregivers for both of our mothers. My mother has been a resident of Maryhill Manor for seven years. But my mother-in-law joined us just last year in November. She had been living independently in senior housing in Neenah for more than a decade. One morning she was running to her senior exercise class and fell in the carpeted hallway, breaking both her right femur near her hip and her right arm near her shoulder. My husband met his siblings at a well-known medical center — one that patients routinely travel to from miles around so they can “get the best care available.” They needed to be with their mother and to make any necessary decisions about her care. The routine pre-operative tests were run, and she passed them all so was deemed fit for the surgical repair of her leg. Due to her age, they put her arm in a sling to heal on its own.

The surgery was a success so now the question became where to have her obtain the necessary follow-up and post-surgical rehabilitation. After much discussion, it was decided she would travel north to be close to us, and she became my mother’s roommate at Maryhill Manor. Dr. Venditti agreed to provide her follow-up orthopedic care, and she progressed through her rehab program thanks to the marvelous staff and my husband’s daily vigilance and encouragement. As long as he was there, she did her exercises. We made arrangements for assisted living at Victorian Pines, got her apartment in Neenah closed up, and moved her belongings to her new home on the north side of Iron Mountain. We thought everything was settled, until two days later when she fell again and broke her left femur.

This time surgery was performed by Dr. Occhietti at Dickinson Memorial Hospital — our small, local, northwoods hospital. “Weren’t you concerned;” you may ask? To which I would answer a resounding, “no,” and here is why. Again, the standard pre-operative testing was completed, which was the same battery of tests and lab work performed only three months earlier in Neenah — at that big, prestigious medical center. Except this time, we were blessed with a hospitalist on duty at Dickinson who just “did not like what he was hearing in her heart.” You see, he did not merely rely on the typical EKG and requested an echocardiogram. This additional test saved the life of my mother-in-law. At 91 years old, she was fit for surgery… and had a previously undiagnosed infected heart valve.

The surgery was successful. They kept her in the hospital long enough to grow a culture from a blood test so they could learn what type of bacteria was living in her heart. From those test results, a cocktail of three antibiotics was prescribed. Staff in Dr. To’s Radiology Department inserted a PICC line through which staff at Maryhill could administer this life-saving medicine. Also, while in the hospital, her family physician, Dr. Schroeder, visited her daily to check on her progress. Five days later, Dr. Schroeder authorized her discharge back to Maryhill. Over the course of the next six weeks, she received her medicine three times each day and did her exercises daily with the rehab staff — and her very supportive son. Dr. Venditti followed her orthopedic progress and let us know when she was able to be discharged from her rehab program. We moved her back to Victorian Pines three months later.

Just to be on the safe side, we also followed up with Dr. Washington, a cardiology specialist on staff at Dickinson. She told us that it was “our lucky day” because most of the time she would be seeing patients with a heart valve infection in the hospital’s ICU. Thanks to the expert detection of the problem, the accurate diagnosis, and the very thorough treatment plan followed by all involved with her care, my mother-in-law was there in person to answer all of the questions her cardiologist asked. In fact, Dr. Washington said that she could not believe she was looking at echocardiograms of the same patient because the results on the before and after tests were so very different — her infection was completely cleared, and she would suffer no lasting adverse effects from it.

Now, before you suggest that the heart infection cropped up in the three months in between surgeries so was not there when she had the pre-op testing for her Neenah based procedure, let me assure you I asked that question myself. The answer — heart valve infections do not “crop up and grow to that extent” that quickly. So, simply put, the big, prestigious medical center missed a very important detail of my mother-in-law’s condition — one that could have killed her if not for the expertise of the hospitalist and staff of our very own, locally based Dickinson Memorial Hospital. Everyone was professional, did their job, worked together like a well-oiled machine, and treated my mother-in-law with the utmost respect. Ultimately, they saved her life. Thanks to all involved with her care, we will have her with us for many more years to come.

Yes, I am a proud retiree of our local healthcare system. But I am not biased because of my past employment. I simply know from experience how blessed we are to have such high-quality care provided by such caring people available to us right here at home. I know first hand the impact each and every one of those dedicated professionals had on our family. And I am reminded of it every time I hear my husband laugh at something his mother just told him… because she is still here for him to visit.

The allure of a larger, more metropolitan medical center is understandable. But bigger is not always better, and more often than not, when you need healthcare, you can obtain it locally. And you can be assured that it meets the highest of professional industry standards as evidenced by the consistent record of awards earned for quality and safety.

Yes, it is true that recently they have struggled financially, but like the “little engine that could” in the well-known children’s story, they have kept chugging along. They have never lost their focus of providing their very best so we could attain and maintain our very best health. Rest assured, high quality healthcare is available right here at home.






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Toss across, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts and gardening, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 11 a.m.; bible study, 1:15 p.m.; Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.; afternoon visitor, 3:30 p.m.; Lawrence Welk, 4:30 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; Pictionary, 1:15 p.m.; Golden K bingo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; evening news, 6 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; reminisce, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; scrappers, 1 p.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; comedy movie 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/animal kingdom, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; watermelon Wednesday party, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; bible study, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United Church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; fair trip, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; fair trip, 1 p.m.; throw away bingo, 2 p.m.; romance movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Price is Right, volley ball, 10 a.m..; geri-gym, 11 p.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. Sunday through Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day: every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits/outdoors, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who-what-when, 10:15 am.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Bowling, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Sharpen your senses, 10:15 a.m.; fun in the sun/root beer floats on the patio, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Family Feud, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Help your neighbor, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.; Baptist service, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2:30 p.m.; root beer float social, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Wii bowling, 10:15 a.m.: jokereno, 2 p.m.; bible stories, 3 p.m.; camp fire/Ray and Mindy 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; religious movie, 2 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.; Music in the Park with Tom Sielaff, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Exercise, 10:15 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ron W., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking s’mores, 10:15 a.m.; courtyard bag toss, 2 p.m.; pamper and polish, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 2:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Root beer floats, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Golden Throats, 2 p.m., refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Trivia, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Uno, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; dyna-stretch, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Flippo, 10 a.m.; root beer float party, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Uno, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; music with Jan and Gino, 2 p.m.; one-to-one time, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; fly swatter volley, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; patio games, 2 p.m.; national s’mores day, 3 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; sensory, 10:30 a.m.; beauty shop, 2 p.m.; Phase 10, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Outside social, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; song service, 1:40 p.m.; rosary — first, 2 p.m.; rosary — second, 2:30 p.m.; bowling, 3:30 p.m.; Scrabble, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Employee of the month meeting, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; Scattegories, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Gardening, 10:30 a.m.; outside social, 2 p.m.; cribbage, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Casino outing, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; Sorry board game, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.; bunco, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; mind joggers, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the Center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The center is not just for seniors – bring a friend.

Suggested meal donations: $5 older than 60; $6 younger than 60; $1 extra for take-out

Call center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people to reserve meals.

Open: Monday through Wednesday 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar and 5 p.m., dinner.

All dinners include the soup and salad bar, homemade dessert, tea, coffee and milk

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Menu for the week of Aug. 5 follows:

Monday: Chicken broccoli alfredo, and garlic bread.

Tuesday: Tacos.

Wednesday: Grilled pork tenderloin, buttered potato, and vegetables.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; Mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235.

For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Menu for the week of Aug. 5 follows:

Monday: Chicken parmesan, rice pilaf, oriental vegetables, and mandarin oranges.

Tuesday: Liver and onions or Chicken, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, and tropical fruit.

Wednesday: Spaghetti in meat sauce, green beans, garlic bread, dark green salad, and apple pie.

Thursday: Sloppy joes, mac and cheese, three bean salad, pears, and birthday cake.

Friday: Taco salad, corn bread, and watermelon.

Other assistance includes: information on aging, benefits specialist, and caregiver support.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Reservations for meal at 855-528-2372.

Meal at noon Wednesdays only – Menu under Florence Center. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

Reservations for meal at 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at this center Monday through Thursday. 

Menu for the week of July 29 follows: 

Monday: Brat on a bun, sauerkraut, mac and cheese, three bean salad, and pears.

Tuesday: Baked fish, baked sweet potato, cauliflower, and fruit.

Wednesday: Porcupine meatballs, mashed potatoes, beets, and watermelon.

Thursday: Cooks choice — entrée, dark green vegetables, and fruit.

Friday: Beef stew with vegetables, biscuits, fruit and cocktail.

Tipler Town Hall

Reservations for meal at 715-674-2320.

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month — menu at Florence Center.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

Reservations for meal at 715-589-4491.

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday — menu at Florence Center. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen Hodgins at ext. 230.

Menu for the week of Aug. 5 follows:

Monday: Salisbury steak, cheesy hash, carrots, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Seafood salad, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Chicken alfredo, noodles, broccoli, roll, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Pork roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, dessert, milk.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Menu for the week of Aug. 5:

Monday: Noon meal: Country fried steak, baked potato, glazed carrots, salad bar, and dessert.

5 p.m.: Company chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar, and dessert.

Tuesday: Summer beach party – fish taco with shell, cole slaw, beans, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Wednesday: Spaghetti or polenta, garlic bread, broccoli, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Thursday: Pork chop suey, rice, oriental vegetables, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.  

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 


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