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home : opinions : opinions August 17, 2017

6/13/2017 7:28:00 AM
Marshfield Clinic deserves opportunity to compete
By Dr. Bill Melms and Dr. Mike Schaars
regional medical director, Marshfield Clinic and regional medical director, Marshfield Clinic

At Marshfield Clinic we have been open, honest and forthright about our plans to build a 12-bed hospital in Minocqua. We want to provide the same world-class care and patient experience to our patients in an in-patient setting as we do in our more than 50 clinics and hospital across Wisconsin.

Over the past several months, we have answered every question posed to us by Minocqua and Oneida County officials as part of the conditional use permit process. We've probably done more than what is required of us in the permitting process, and that's OK. We want people to know how we plan to help Northwoods residents and visitors to our community.

As you know, St. Louis-based Ascension Health Care, which owns Howard Young Medical Center and has over $20 billion in annual revenues, has raised objections to our proposal claiming that competition would harm the community.

This is sharply different from what they said when they built Saint Clare's Hospital in Weston. According to media reports at that time their leadership said:

"When a second hospital enters the market, it tends to force both facilities to attract prospective patients. The level of care and customer service allow patients to make comparisons. Those markets with competition tend to see prices stabilize and perhaps fall slightly."

It's also quite different from their actions from less than two years ago when they opened a "major medical clinic" to "help lower the cost of care" less than half a mile from two other major medical clinics operated by Aspirus and Marshfield Clinic.

We did not oppose either of these efforts. In fact we were very publicly supportive of their effort to build their hospital.

But herein lies the issue. Ascension wants to compete with us but they want the government to oppose any effort we make to compete with them.

Ascension competes with us by adding physicians here and in other markets every day without being required to get a permit from the government. But we are not allowed to compete with them unless we get a permit, which they will then use all of their many resources to oppose.

We believe that is unfair. All we are asking for is that we be offered the opportunity to compete. We believe that we meet the standards that are set by the government to receive our permit, and that the services we will bring to the community in this hospital will be beneficial to all of us, just as it has been to Rice Lake and our Truven Health 100 Top Hospitals® there.

For nearly three decades the Marshfield Clinic has been committed to the Northwoods and to this community. With our hospital we will be positioned to continue providing the high quality care our patients have come to expect. Through the care integration made possible by this facility we will be able to provide this care for generations to come.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Article comment by: Jason Smith

I just have to comment on this as one who is currently going through a Marshfield Clinic venture with the same manipulations. First they are using the the example of a Ministry hospital being built in a supposed closeness to Aspirus Wausau hospital. This is by no means a true comparison. For one the Ministry hospital is not in the same city. The other huge difference is take a look at the population size, which CAN support two hospitals in that area. Of course the Marshfield Clinic was onboard with the building of the St. Clare's hospital as they were still working together and not competing. This is the Marshfield Clinic's latest tactic to try and wipe out competition in certain markets. They did it in Marshfield by threatening to build a hospital right next door. Made a huge mess to people's jobs and community. They are doing it in Eau Claire currently with the same tactic. Threatening to build a hospital right next door to a hospital. Ultimately they are trying to create an atmosphere where the hospital has no choice but to either close or sell to the Marshfield Clinic. This has nothing to do with doing something better for the community, it only has to do with getting a bigger piece of the pie and getting rich, regardless of who it impacts.

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