ThedaCare-Shawano CEO Erdmann to retire

New London CEO also will oversee Shawano

Leader Staff


After leading the former Shawano Medical Center through a period of transition, integration with ThedaCare and the opening of a new hospital, ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano CEO Dorothy Erdmann on Tuesday announced she will retire at the end of the year.

“I’m honored and proud of the hard work we did to bring the community together to enjoy this beautiful new medical center,” Erdmann said in a statement from ThedaCare. “It’s been a privilege to be part of securing health care for the Shawano community for the next 100 years.”

Erdmann said ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano is the third hospital that she helped bring to life during her career.

Erdmann was named the new administrator and CEO at Shawano Medical Center in 2009, after 15 years of experience in hospital management at both a community and system level.

The position in Shawano was something of a homecoming for Erdmann and her family. She is originally from northeast Wisconsin, and completed both undergraduate and graduate studies at UW-Oshkosh. Her husband, Roger, is also from the area.

“I love community-based care,” Erdmann said during an interview in 2009. “My husband and I were already familiar with this area — we knew it was a nice community.”

Erdmann brought to SMC a background as a family nurse practitioner. She saw her position in administration as one with close ties to patient care.

“(My experience in nursing) brings a nice perspective to a leadership role. I understand the value of quality patient care,” Erdmann said in the 2009 interview.

She also saw the administrator’s role as a community leader and advocate for patients in the face of a changing political climate.

Erdmann took over SMC shortly after an expansion of the hospital facility, but by 2010 confidential discussions were already taking place about merging with ThedaCare.

In October 2010, the integration was announced.

The agreement included a $1.5 million contribution to the Shawano Medical Center Foundation, matching the foundation’s current assets, and plans for a new, shared facility that would eventually replace the existing SMC building.

Erdmann said the hospital would retain local control and its own governing board even after the integration.

Bill Schmidt, CEO at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, will expand his role to include new responsibilities as CEO at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano after Erdmann’s retirement.

“Dorothy has been an incredible leader in the Shawano community,” said Brian Burmeister, senior vice president, ThedaCare Medical Centers. “She was instrumental in helping us build the new hospital in Shawano and created an environment where her team and the community welcomed the new facility and what it represents for the future. She will be missed.”

Burmeister also said he’s excited about the future as Schmidt expands his role early next year.

“Bill and Dorothy have worked as a team to evolve health care options in our rural areas, so he’s very familiar with the Shawano community,” he said. “He will lead the strategic work at both hospitals and expects to become more involved in the Shawano community.”

Peg School, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, and Penny Block, ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, who are both directors of patient services and nursing, will continue to lead the clinical work at their respective hospitals.

“Dorothy and I approach leadership in similar fashion,” Schmidt said. “We believe it’s critical to establish a strong team culture, where everyone feels like they can share and learn from each other. ThedaCare is losing an outstanding leader, but I will do everything I can to make it a seamless transition. My goal is to continue the work she started there five years ago to ensure the Shawano community understands ThedaCare’s commitment to improving the quality of health care.”

Erdmann previously served as CEO at Owatonna Hospital, in Owatonna, Minn., part of Allina Hospitals & Clinics.

Prior to that, Erdmann was executive director of cardiovascular services for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, also part of the Allina system.

She has also served in management positions at BellinHealth in Green Bay and Howard Young Healthcare in Woodruff.