Hooper led way to a modern Clearview for Dodge County
JUNEAU – Clearview has come a long way since it was established as the Dodge County Poor Farm in 1852, and the most dramatic change since that time was led by current Executive Director Jane Hooper.
Hooper is a local girl, living near Minnesota Junction in the Dodgeland School District.
“I’m born and raised in Dodge County and I’m proud of it,” Hooper said.
After graduating from Dodgeland High School she decided to study social work at UW-Oshkosh.
She attended for only a semester before deciding it wasn’t for her.
She returned home where her father urged her to get a job at Clearview, where he knew she would be warmer than if she worked in a factory. (Her father was a mechanic at the Beaver Ready Mix cement plant and was frequently cold in that line of work).
The job included everything that wasn’t done by certified nursing staff.
“We did everything – laundry, housekeeping, everything but nursing care – because I didn’t have any previous experience,” said Hooper. “I filled in everywhere. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and decided I was going to leave, but I still stayed on for a while.”
TClearview offered training to become a nursing assistant, which Hooper pursued. She obtained her associate’s degree as well.
“One day it just came to me that I really loved my job, but I still wanted to do more in this line of work,” Hooper said.
During that time she got married and had two children, but made the time to pursue training as a registered nurse. After that she got a job at Beaver Dam Community Hospital – realizing that she needed hospital experience. During that time she recognized that her true passion was in the field of rehabilitation and caring for the elderly.
She returned to Clearview, worked another 10 years, obtained her bachelor’s degree, and went to Columbus where she became the director of nursing at Columbus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. A year later she returned to Clearview.
“In 1999 I came back for the third time and I’ve been here ever since,” Hooper said. “I’ve also gotten my master’s degree – all while being married and raising a family. I started out not liking school in my first semester in college, so I really encourage people to keep trying, because maybe they haven’t found their right path.”
With an aging facility, built in the 1962 and from that point onward known as Clearview, the crossroads eventually came. In 2005, when Hooper became the executive director, the county was levying for Clearview’s $4.5 million operating budget.
“We looked at what we could do to increase revenue and decrease expenses,” said Hooper. “The old building didn’t allow for much change. It was one big long hallway with rooms on each side and wards for four people. It wasn’t up to date and it was fully depreciated. We had to do something. We either had to go small and just care for Dodge County residents, close the place down or think about building new.”
“Thankfully the Health Facilities Committee and the Dodge County Board voted to support this organization and continue to do what we do best; care for individuals with behavioral health concerns and individuals with complex medical concerns — and sometimes a combination thereof. They decided we would continue our mission with the goal of eventually being off the county tax levy. It was amazing that we had a unanimous vote to support our $44.5 million project.”
Ground was broken in 2010, and the building was partially occupied in 2011. The final move into the new facility took place in 2012.
Payments come from a variety of sources, including insurance, private pay, Medicaid and other sources. All contribute to Clearview’s financial viability, and include patients from other counties who can’t find appropriate care where they live.
“We have been off the tax levy (except for building principal payments, covered by county sales tax) since 2014,” Hooper added.
It is all a far cry from when the Dodge County Poor Farm – later the Dodge County Asylum — was established in the early 1852.
“I don’t think there’s a combination of services like us in the state of Wisconsin,” Hooper said, adding, “I have a wonderful team, and over the years have had a wonderful management team. Quality employees come to Clearview, and they are responsible for the day-to-day excellence of the care we provide. It was and is a team that makes this a success.”
Tales are told how visitors would pay 25 cents to have a look at “inmates” held in a wooden cell on the property.
“It’s amazing how much things have changed from then to the present day,” said Hooper. “The beauty of what we do now is that when people pull up to the front door it doesn’t mean they’re going to be here forever. It means they’re here to get better, and more often than not we’re transitioning from here back into a home environment. Some people make this their home, and that’s OK too.”
She concluded, “It’s a beautiful facility and I’m very proud of it.”