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ThedaCare emergency obstetric program aims to save women from Theda Clark’s fate

Posted at 5:16 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 18:16:37-05

NEENAH (NBC 26) — ThedaCare has been fulfilling Theda Clark’s legacy for generations. A program hopes to keep women from meeting her same fate.

  • ThedaCare’s OB-ED program is the first emergency obstetric program in Northeast Wisconsin.
  • The doctor heading the program has a unique connection to Theda Clark, who died during childbirth.
  • The program aims to reduce C-sections rates and length of stay.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Pregnant moms needing emergency care in Northeast Wisconsin have never had access to emergency OB-GYN care. I'm Olivia Acree in Neenah with a closer look at a program that changed that.

Infant deaths have been steadily declining in Wisconsin as women's healthcare continues to improve.

“This is a gap that we’ve had and forever,” said Dr. Eric Eberts, OB-ED Physician.

Dr. Eric Eberts says that gap was in emergency obstetrics.

“But this enters usher in a new era where that gap is closed,” said Dr. Eberts.

ThedaCare started an obstetrical emergency department, or OB-ED.

“The days of just breathe for 20 minutes your doctors in route will be gone. We’re right there if you need us,” said Dr. Eberts.

Senior Vice President Lynn Detterman told me this program has been a long time coming.

“It’s been a couple years and if you talk to Dr. Eberts 18 years in the making,” said Lynn Detterman, ThedaCare Senior Vice President.

Or over a hundred years in the making.

“Long time ago 120 years ago,” said Dr. Eberts.

All those years ago, Theda Clark died shortly after childbirth.

“There was a physician obstetrician in route on the train from Chicago, but he didn’t make it in time,” said Dr. Eberts.

Clark's death left its mark on Neenah in the form of a hospital.

Her dying wish -- to have one here. She donated half her money to build it.

Her death also left its mark on Dr. Eberts.

“She passed on the second floor of my house and so it’s a constant reminder of the mission that we serve,” said Dr. Eberts.

The mission that he and the team at ThedaCare are carrying out.

“Now we’re improving care 100 years later to the next level for the community,” said Lynn Detterman, ThedaCare Senior Vice President.

The program aims to reduce C-sections rates and length of stay.

Physicians like Dr. Eberts will be there around the clock.

“We’ve only been up and running for about 10 days. We already had a situation where a lady had went into labor, was in labor and then the cord prolapsed,” said Dr. Eberts. ‘To have a physician here on site who can respond in seconds to perhaps a minute or two in that case made a difference.”

Dr. Eberts says that if Theda were alive her name would be all over this program, but in a way it is.