Ministry says it is not planning reduction in services at St. Joseph’s Hospital
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — President and CEO of Ministry Health Care Daniel Neufelder said today that there is no plan to reduce services at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. This comes one day after Marshfield Clinic Health System announced that it was accelerating efforts to open its new hospital to “address expected reduced services” at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
“We have made no plans to reduce services at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital,” Neufelder said. He added that he did not know why Marshfield Clinic would speculate that Saint Joseph’s would reduce services.
“Ministry was surprised by the release of yesterday. Not from the standpoint of the plans of Marshfield Clinic, because those seem to be the same plans that they have announced several times over the last few months, but we were surprised because of the discussions that are underway between the two organizations,” Neufelder said.
A press release from Ministry today added, “It is apparent that Marshfield Clinic will accelerate its decision to build a second hospital in Marshfield, knowing full well it is not needed and the Marshfield community cannot afford or support two hospitals. Marshfield Clinic is also aware that its actions will negatively impact Ministry associates, many of whom are proud, long-time Marshfield residents. Ministry recognizes the community chooses us based upon the care provided by our talented associates and we are committed to retaining them.”
The Marshfield Clinic said in a press release yesterday that it had proposed buying or leasing beds inside of Saint Joseph’s Hospital, sharing employees between the two organizations, and buying Saint Joseph’s Hospital outright in the interest of maintaining services and protecting local jobs but that Ministry rejected those proposals. Neufelder said today that Ministry had also made several proposals to the Marshfield Clinic, which they in turn rejected, but would not go into specifics as to what those proposals were.
“Until yesterday’s announcement (by Marshfield Clinic), we believed that the discussions were still ongoing. Obviously after yesterday’s announcement, our discussions are done,” Neufelder said. “That’s the only way I can take their press release of yesterday.”
Neufelder said that not only is Ministry Saint Joseph’s not planning to reduce services but that the organization is hiring for about 50 nursing positions in Marshfield.
“We’re in the recruitment mode,” Neufelder said. He added that the planning for previously announced renovations for Ministry Saint Joseph’s to create an all private room care environment is in full swing. Patient rooms in the North Tower of Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital will be renovated into all private rooms. The plan is to renovate eight floors at an estimated cost of $3 million per floor in the North Tower.
“We’re currently in the process of submitting the necessary and appropriate plans to the state to do that,” Neufelder said. Renovations will begin with the third floor in the North Tower. Neufelder said these renovations would address the “lion’s share” of Saint Joseph’s rooms.
Marshfield Clinic said in both their interview with Hub City Times and their press release yesterday that while they have had ongoing discussions with Ministry Health Care about renovations to Saint Joseph’s Hospital and the need for a new hospital altogether, they simply could wait no longer for Ministry to make the necessary changes.
“There is no doubt within the last decade, prior to even the new management presence, there has been tens of millions of dollars invested in upgrades to Saint Joseph’s Hospital, whether that’s through medical technology, whether that’s through expansion, equipment, and the like,” said Vince Gallucci, chief marketing and communications officer for Ministry Health Care. “Prior to the new leadership at the Marshfield Clinic, there were discussions, and there was planned resources available to make even greater investments into the future.”
Dr. Susan Turney started in her role as CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System in September of 2014.
Neufelder also confirmed that a law firm representing Ministry Health Care did make an open records request to the city of Marshfield pertaining to Marshfield Clinic’s building activity in its East Wing. Neufelder said this was standard practice “whenever a competitor announces a building project.”
“We’re really looking … to make sure people are following the proper regulatory processes,” Neufelder said.
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