The Minocqua Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit Tuesday from Marshfield Clinic to build a 72,000 square foot, 12 bed hospital not far from Howard Young Medical Center, which is in the town of Woodruff.
The meeting lasted over 90 minutes and had an audience of more than 60 people, many of them Marshfield Clinic employees.
Representatives from Marshfield Clinic provided more detailed plans than what was available at a Jan. 31 plan commission meeting, where the CUP was tabled.
Marshfield Clinic made the announcement about the hospital plans just six days before, on Jan. 25.
In addition to the 12 beds, the new Marshfield Clinic hospital plans include a birthing unit, complete emergency room services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a surgical center and would be designed - according to the CUP - for potential expansion both vertically and horizontally.
Another feature will be a helipad.
The plans, to this point, have satisfied Oneida County planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich.
Disagreeing with Jennrich, as he had at the Jan. 31 meeting, on his interpretation of county zoning rules was Ascension attorney Tim Feely.
After hearing both sides, plan commission members agreed Marshfield Clinic's plans, in the scope of what it is the plan commission is tasked to do, met standards for CUP approval and voted unanimously to recommend the CUP move forward to the next meeting of the Minocqua Town Board on March 7.
Howard Young representatives apparently anticipated plan commission approval as, immediately after the meeting, Tom Weaver, the public and community relations manager for Ministry Health Care and Ascension, handed a prepared statement from Howard Young's president, Sandy Anderson, to the media.
"We are disappointed with the decision of the town of Minocqua Plan Commission and view the proposed application as harmful to the health care services provided to the community," Anderson said in the statement. "Howard Young Medical Center, part of Ascension, is proud of its long history of service and our continued focus is on fulfilling our mission of serving our community with personalized, compassionate, high quality care with special attention to those who are most vulnerable."
Feely, who earlier in his remarks had referred to the Marshfield Clinic's plans for a hospital in Minocqua as a "micro-hospital," also expressed disappointment with the plan commission's decision after the meeting.
"We still believe the zoning is not proper for this micro-hospital with a helicopter pad," he said. "We will evaluate our options. We know there's going to be a public hearing before the town board. We'll now focus to prepare for that."
Marshfield Clinic's regional medical director Bill Melms, who argued in his opening remarks and later in the meeting the health care competition will be a good thing for the area, said after the meeting "we are very pleased with the outcome."
"Obviously, we were looking for a favorable response from the planning committee," he said. "We have a positive message to deliver and our strategy here is to deliver our positive message. We'll continue to do that and we'll continue to expect favorable responses. In the end, as far as the opposition goes, the opposition just comes down to being opposed to competition. They've indicated they're not leaving the community. We've indicated we're not leaving the community. They want to deliver care in their hospital and we feel we can deliver care better in our facility. So, the community wins."
If the Marshfield Clinic CUP application is approved at the March 7 Minocqua Town Board meeting, it will then go to the Oneida County planning and zoning committee at its April 5 meeting.
Town chairman Mark Hartzheim said he assumes the town board will take action on it.
"I don't think there'd be any reason it would be tabled," he said. "It's always a possibility but I would anticipate the town board would take action."
For more on this story, see Friday's edition of The Lakeland Times.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
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I feel the more healthcare options is better because it will provide more insurance coverage options in the Lakeland area. For example, I took my son to the Howard Young ER several years ago and was billed a high dollar amount because they did not take my HMO coverage via Security Health Plans.