Quality health care for retirement

Released: 01/12/17

Quality health care for a quality retirement

Ellen Wiltgen overcomes hydrocephalus

After teaching first grade for forty years at Ossian DeSales School, Ellen Wiltgen chose to retire and was looking forward to an active lifestyle. Unfortunately, she began experiencing health issues the first few months into retirement. “I was visiting Becky Gesing, my provider at the Ossian Clinic, for my diabetes,” says Ellen. “I had a sore on my foot that wouldn’t heal and I have arthritis, so Becky coordinated care with Dr. Marquardt, the podiatrist, and Dr. Wulfsberg, an orthopedic doctor at Decorah Clinic.” Drs. Marquardt and Wulfsberg are of part of a team of 20 full time Mayo Clinic Health System specialty physicians who live in our community. In addition to these specialists, WMC is home to 9 full time Mayo Clinic Health System family medicine physicians and 17 associate providers.

Ellen continued her follow up visits with Becky at the Ossian Clinic throughout the spring. “I noticed she was walking differently,” says Becky Gesing, ARNP, advanced registered nurse practitioner. “I was concerned but she said she was compensating for the sore on her foot and arthritis. Still, I felt there was more going on.”

The Ossian Clinic opened in 2014 and about 1/3 of the clinic space is dedicated to rehabilitation services. Rebecca Moonen, DPT, doctor of physical therapy, and Alyssa Bullerman, PTA, physical therapist assistant, provide rehab care to area patients at the clinic and at Ossian Senior Hospice. “We work closely together,” says Gesing. “That is an advantage for our patients and it was a major advantage for Ellen.” Together, the team discussed Ellen’s gait disturbance and falls, how her speech had become slow and deliberate and concerns that were raised by Ellen’s family. Ultimately the team arranged an appointment with a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for advanced care.

“I had a lot of exams in Rochester, and once the neurologist saw me walk, he went on to confirm that I was suffering from hydrocephalus.” Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excess water builds up within the ventricles of the brain. “I went through two surgeries at Mayo Clinic that spring and ended up coming to Ossian Senior Hospice to recover,” says Ellen. Her physical therapists continued her rehab there, and after a few weeks she went home. “The staff at the Ossian Clinic is really helpful and very concerned about people – they make sure you get the best attention,” says Ellen.

Health care organizations often refer to ‘continuum of care’ as the concept of involving an integrated system of providers working together to guide patients over time. “This is a good example of the continuum of care available in our community through WMC and Mayo Clinic Health System,” says Gesing. “From our work with Ellen at the Ossian Clinic and Ossian Senior Hospice, to the care she receives from specialists at WMC Decorah Clinic and the WMC emergency care she required after her first surgery – to ultimately the advanced neurological care through Mayo Clinic Rochester – there have been several people working together and committed to Ellen’s wellbeing. That’s what our jobs are all about.”

Ellen is continuing her follow up care with Gesing and the therapists at the Ossian Clinic. “I’m working on my balance now and by the beginning of the year I hope to be finished with therapy,” says Ellen. “It’s nice to see her regain her independence,” says Gesing. “Her family has even commented that ‘we’ve got the old Ellen back.’ We’re happy to be part of her successful story of healing.”

Return to Press Room