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Foundation donates $14,000 for cardiac rehab in Baraboo, Wisconsin Dells

February 6, 2019

Hundreds of uses each week means cardiac rehab equipment in SSM Health’s Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells locations need to be replaced regularly. A recent donation has made it possible for those facilities to establish a reliable fund to address maintenance and upgrade needs.

The Gregory C. Van Wie Charitable Foundation gave the St. Clare Foundation $14,000 for a cardiac rehab endowment. Once the hospital’s fundraising arm brings the endowment up to $25,000, its interest earnings will be used to purchase workout equipment, such as treadmills, arm cranks and weights, said St. Clare Foundation Executive Director Julia Randles.

“It’s a gift that will live on forever and continue to support cardiac rehab for as long as that program exists,” Randles said.

Gregory Van Wie grew up in Wisconsin Dells. When he died of brain cancer in 1996, he left behind a charity that annually distributes proceeds from his various business interests to nonprofit organizations in the Dells area, including Baraboo.

Bruce Rodger of Oxford became best friends with Van Wie when they attended Wisconsin Dells High School. Rodger now serves on the board of the Van Wie Foundation.

He said the foundation supports a wide variety of causes with roughly $220,000 each year, from a Wisconsin Dells camp for people with disabilities to historical societies to St. Clare Hospital.

“Many people in the Van Wie family have had heart issues, and so that kind of brought it to the forefront,” Rodger said of the cardiac rehab endowment. “But we knew it was going to help everybody in the Dells and Baraboo area.”

SSM Health St. Clare Hospital has cardiac rehabilitation centers in Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells. Patients who experience a cardiac event — such as heart failure, coronary artery bypass or valve replacement or repair — can use the facilities to work out.

“Whatever the event is, the sooner they start cardiac rehab, it actually increases their lifespan,” said program coordinator Nicole Faust.

About three-quarters of patients stay with the program long-term, she noted.

Barb Stone of Baraboo has been in the program for about 20 years and has logged more than 1,000 visits. Stone said she works out for 35 minutes three times per week.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Stone said. “The physiologists are a great help.”

In addition to the health benefits of exercise, cardiac rehab can help patients by giving them a community of people to talk to who have gone through similar experiences, Faust said. The program also helps educate patients on lifestyle changes they need to improve their lifespan.

“The patients do the work, but we’re just there to guide them to succeed,” Faust said.

There are 30 pieces of equipment at the Baraboo center, which gets 300 visits per week, and 16 in the Dells, which gets slightly more than 170 visits each week, Faust said. All of the equipment was donated through the St. Clare Foundation.

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