Marshfield Clinic Health System announces plans to build hospital in Eau Claire
For Hub City Times
EAU CLAIRE — Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) today announced its new “Caring for the Chippewa Valley” plan to build a hospital with attached cancer care on land the clinic has purchased near its Eau Claire campus. MCHS officials said owning and operating a state-of-the-art hospital in Eau Claire is an important move that allows the organization to offer the highest level of care locally while gaining more control over the cost and quality of care it has provided in the community for more than two decades.
“Data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association shows residents in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley face some of the highest health care costs in the state, and building a new hospital puts MCHS in a strong position to start to change that,” said Dr. Susan Turney, MCHS CEO. “Our ‘Caring for the Chippewa Valley’ program makes us a truly integrated local health care system. This allows MCHS to maximize efficiencies and start reducing patient costs while providing even higher quality care and a great patient experience.
“We’ve essentially had two legs of a three-legged stool in the Chippewa Valley — world-class outpatient care at multiple local facilities along with insurance through Security Health Plan of Wisconsin,” Turney said. “Adding inpatient care with our own modern hospital with connected cancer care services gives us the third leg and puts us in an excellent position to make a real difference on care levels and cost for patients in the region.”
Dr. Narayana Murali, Marshfield Clinic’s chief clinical strategy officer, said that MCHS is in the process of evaluating and determining the optimal size and scope for the new hospital and will share more information, including an anticipated construction budget, when available. He said the new hospital will enhance specialty services MCHS provides in the Chippewa Valley, including heart care; orthopedics and sports medicine; general surgery; plastic surgery; ear, nose, and throat; neurosurgery; obstetrics/gynecology; bariatric surgery; vein care; pain management; and pediatrics. The facility will be constructed to take advantage of green space, use environmentally sensitive building materials and methods, feature patient views of the Chippewa River, and include the latest technology in electronic record-keeping, communications, and patient care.
“Integration of advanced computer technology, state-of-the-art equipment, and better communications tools will help deliver even better health care in the Chippewa Valley,” Murali said. “So much of health care — from record-keeping to surgery scheduling to patient monitoring — is now based on digital technology. MCHS, through its Marshfield Clinic Information Services, already has award-winning technology in place. Putting these and other new tools together with our world-class physicians and staff will result in a less expensive, higher quality, and more positive experience for patients.”
The new Chippewa Valley cancer care location is expected to be staffed by the same doctors, nurses, and other employees currently working at the Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care at Sacred Heart Hospital. The new facility will feature more patient privacy, expanded clinical services, and all the programs now offered at the existing center.
Initial reports show the new hospital will create hundreds of jobs and have other positive local economic impacts, Turney said.
“We’re very excited about the new hospital, not only because it will be staffed by the Marshfield Clinic doctors, nurses, and other associates our local patients have come to know and trust, but also because it gives us the chance to create even more good employment opportunities in the Chippewa Valley,” she said. “That’s important to us. We’ve been part of Wisconsin for a century and part of Eau Claire since 1992. We’re proud of our role as one of the region’s largest employers and of our century-strong heritage of being an active and involved member of the communities we serve.”
The hospital will be built at 1202 W. Clairemont Ave.,the current site of the Plaza Hotel & Suites. MCHS has purchased the real estate, and the hotel business will continue to operate through December. The building will be razed over the winter, and groundbreaking is scheduled for spring of 2017. The cancer care location is tentatively set to open in fall of 2017 with the hospital opening expected the following year, Turney said. Cancer care services will continue to be provided at Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care at Sacred Heart Hospital until the transition.
MCHS will work closely with the city of Eau Claire, which must issue approval to build.