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Beaver Dam Community Hospital attempts to tackle Dodge County alcohol issues

January 4, 2019

Beaver Dam Community Hospital has seen its share of cases caused by misuse of alcohol over the years, and now with the help of the Blue Zones Project, it is attempting to help the community battle alcohol addictions and make a healthier Dodge County.

Beaver Dam Community Hospital CEO Kim Miller said there are new programs to help people fight alcohol addiction.

One of them is Point of Last Drink. When Beaver Dam and Watertown police officers or Dodge County sheriff’s deputies encounter someone who is intoxicated, they will ask the person where they had their last drink and enter the information into a database that will help pinpoint where overserving could be happening in the community.

“If we see through trending that there are higher incidents at one establishment, the first thing that will be offered is training for all the servers,” Miller said.

Miller said that when the hospital started collaborating with Blue Zones, there wasn’t a place in the program to tackle excessive alcohol use.

“When we looked at the Dodge County assessment in 2013, one of the statistics was more than 30 percent of the people voluntarily admitted to binge drinking,” Miller said. “When we engaged with Blue Zones, they did not have a policy around excessive alcohol use at that time.”

Linda Klinger, the hospital’s director of rehab services, said they are looking for bigger trends with the software. Klinger was active in bringing Blue Zones to Dodge County.

Klinger said another the hospital has implemented is SBIRT — screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment.

Patients complete a questionnaire about their alcohol use, which can then be utilized by care providers to engage in conversations with the patients about things like the appropriate size of a drink and what safe drinking looks like, Klinger said. If someone needs to be referred for treatment, the patient is told about their options.

“We will start in our clinics and then hopefully bring it to other clinics in the area who are interested in implementing it,” Klinger said.

The goal is to start addressing alcohol-related issues, but she admits addressing the drinking culture will take longer.

“We realize the work is not going to be easy,” Klinger said. “It shouldn’t be. It will take some time before we see the benefit of the work.”

Hospital officials said they believe their efforts could produce a 10-20 percent reduction in alcohol-related incidents in Dodge County.

“Overall, we are looking at improving the quality of life for those living in Dodge County,” Miller said.

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