By Dr. Susan Turney
The news about Marshfield Clinic Health System’s (MCHS) pending purchase of Saint Joseph’s Hospital may have surprised people. After all, we have talked about building a new Marshfield hospital for months, and crews have done preliminary work on the site.
The backstory, however, is that MCHS leaders have been talking with Ascension Health, which owns Ministry Health Care, for some time. As Ascension shifts its focus to Milwaukee, other parts of the state, and elsewhere, MCHS is focused on Marshfield and central Wisconsin. We wanted to work collaboratively to find an outcome to continue to drive economic growth and provide world-class health care at a lower cost in our hometown.
We have received overwhelmingly positive community feedback about our news. Many people also have asked us the same two questions: What will happen over the coming months as we finalize the transition? Are we still going to build a new hospital?
I am happy to provide some answers.
First and foremost, MCHS’ priority is to immediately develop a transition plan to ensure the very best care for our patients at Saint Joseph’s. The focus is on restoring services, reducing diversions, and ensuring a smooth transition for hospital employees.
Our plans for a new hospital are temporarily on hold as we evaluate new opportunities. We believe the community will need an up-to-date, state-of-the-art facility in the near future. However, acquiring Saint Joseph’s offers new possibilities to explore. We will study our options in the coming months, including whether and when to build a new hospital. We will provide community updates on our plans at our new Caring for the Future news hub at marshfieldclinic.org/mchs. We also will work closely with the community to chart a shared future that is good for Marshfield and is true to our mission of enriching lives through accessible, affordable, and compassionate health care.
Our mission has not changed, and other things have not either. We will continue to provide care to more Medicare and Medicaid patients than any other organization in our region. In addition to boosting services at Saint Joseph’s, we will continue to offer the same level of clinical and physician services at the Marshfield Clinic Wausau and Weston centers. Also, we intend to keep investing, not only in Marshfield but in all of our communities.
In 1916 six Marshfield physicians joined together in group practice, naming it after the community they served. Now 100 years later, MCHS leadership and its board of directors are excited to move into yet another new direction — owning a hospital. It is a natural extension of our mission. It is also an assurance to the Marshfield community that, in its second century, MCHS will continue to be a local job creator, a powerful economic engine, and an important destination for outstanding specialized health care in this region and beyond.