A year of transition
The local state of health care and the downtown will be forever altered by the events of 2015
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — As we reflect back on Hub City Times’ first full calendar year of covering Marshfield news, we thought it would be interesting to look at some of the stories we and readers found most compelling in 2015.
The divide deepens between Ministry and Marshfield Clinic
This story has captivated the community as tensions between massive local employers with a longstanding partnership have increased dramatically. In February Marshfield Clinic announced that it would build a new hospital in Marshfield and later ramped up those plans, saying in September it had to accelerate construction “to address expected reduced services at Ascension-owned Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital.” Marshfield Clinic expects to open its new hospital in 2018.
A Ministry statement in September asserted that Marshfield Clinic’s efforts, specifically in building a new hospital, would “divide and hurt the entire community.”
Along with the planned new hospital, Marshfield Clinic also underwent significant changes in its East Wing, which included developing post-surgery comfort and recovery suites. The city of Marshfield was also brought into the mix as Ministry challenged the legitimacy of building permits granted to Marshfield Clinic for work on its East Wing.
This year Marshfield Clinic also discontinued discussions with Aspirus regarding building or acquiring a co-owned Eau Claire hospital and giving Marshfield Clinic, as stated in an April press release, “a minority interest in Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids.”
Meanwhile, Ministry announced it would be eliminating 500 full-time positions systemwide, with some of those cuts coming in Marshfield. Most recently, Ministry announced it is pursuing a partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin “to expand adult patient care services in Wausau/Weston and the surrounding metro area,” according to a press release.
The top story of 2015 will also likely be one of the most watched in 2016.
The Second Street corridor debate
Aside from the friction between Ministry Health Care and Marshfield Clinic, perhaps no story engendered as much debate as the city’s plans to redesign Second Street — from Maple Avenue to Chestnut Avenue — into a pedestrian friendly corridor.
The concept, which gained final common council approval in August, will create one-way streets east from Central Avenue to Maple and west from Central to Chestnut Avenue. There will also be angled parking along the corridor as well as areas for outdoor seating, bicycle parking, additional green space, pedestrian-friendly lighting, and public art displays.
Business owners along the corridor expressed strong disapproval for the project, citing a reduction in parking as the primary concern. The final concept would likely reduce parking in the two-block stretch from 36 to 33 or 32 spaces, depending on whether or not a loading zone in front of Mitten’s Home Appliance is converted into a parking space, said City Planner Josh Miller.
The amazing Weichelt triplets
Logan, Mason, and Dylan Weichelt captured the community’s heart as Hub City Times shared their story of a battle against a little-known virus that nearly cost them their lives. The three identical triplets were born to Stacey and Bryan Weichelt on Oct. 17, 2014. Not long after, the boys began having difficulty breathing and appeared lethargic.
November, December, and January were spent undergoing numerous tests to find out what ailed the boys. A diagnosis was finally reached on Jan. 8, 2015, of human parechovirus type 3. The virus can affect the brain, said Dr. Brian Chow, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Marshfield Clinic. The boys “cleared” the virus according to doctors and finally went home on Jan. 17.
Because of the virus’ impact on the brain, the boys’ long-term prognosis is unclear, but both Chow and Dr. Keith Pulvermacher, the triplets’ pediatrician, felt cautiously optimistic.
The Weichelts are raising funds for research on parechovirus, and those that would like to learn more or contribute funds may visit parechovirus.com or send a check to the Marshfield Area Community Foundation at P.O. Box 456, Marshfield, WI 54449. Specify “Parechovirus Research & Awareness Fund” in the memo line of the check.
Marshfield’s largest heroin bust in history
About 80 grams of heroin were seized by the Marshfield Police Department on Sept. 29 after police conducted a traffic stop on 24-year-old Melvin Dunomes. According to Marshfield Police Chief Rick Gramza, it was the biggest heroin bust in Marshfield history.
The seizure was a result of a several-month long investigation between Marshfield police and the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office. The heroin seized amounted to about $80,000 worth, according to the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office.
Dunomes has been charged with possession of heroin with intent to deliver and maintaining a drug trafficking place.
Munsey and Boda move in
Marshfield’s most popular new residents have moved into a posh, $1.3 million home. Kodiak bear cubs Munsey and Boda were introduced to Marshfield on Oct. 24, as were their new digs, an expansive enclosure at Wildwood Park and Zoo: the J.P. Adler Family Kodiak Bear Exhibit.
“In my opinion this is the best bear exhibit we could have possibly built. It’s the best bear exhibit I’ve ever seen,” said Wildwood Zookeeper Steve Burns. By the time the bears are fully grown, Burns said they could weigh about 1,400 pounds.
Munsey and Boda were orphaned on Kodiak Island, Alaska, when their mother was illegally shot. A rescue mission saved them and brought them to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage before they were transported to Marshfield.
Most of the funds for the exhibit were raised via private donations by the citizens of Marshfield.