Shawano hospital, ThedaCare linkage a win-win

Posted on Oct 12, 2010 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
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After covering health care in the Fox Valley for 10 years, I can’t say I was surprised by Monday’s announcement that Shawano Medical Center would affiliate with Appleton’s ThedaCare.

The decision to integrate the community-owned Shawano Medical Center with ThedaCare, which already has a clinic in Shawano, made not only financial sense, but will also improve health care for people living in the area, says Shawano Medical Center CEO Dorothy Erdmann.

As part of the deal, ThedaCare will build a new 25-bed hospital in the community, replacing the current facility. In addition, ThedaCare will keep the hospital’s 400 employees on board and will roll out its electronic medical records system to the hospital.

 “We’ve always believed that 95 percent of the care most people need can and should be delivered within the local community,” says Dean Gruner, MD, chief executive officer and president of ThedaCare. “That is why we think it is important that the already great care delivered by those at Shawano Medical Center stays in Shawano.”

ThedaCare and Shawano have worked together for years as ThedaStar flies critically ill patients from Shawano to either Appleton Medical Center or Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah. The Shawano hospital is also part of ThedaCare’s Code STEMI program, which is designed to get heart attack patients to the cath lab at AMC in less than 60 minutes.

Shawano is smart to follow the path blazed by community hospitals in New London and Waupaca, who have affiliated with ThedaCare in recent years. Both communities have seen their medical facilities updated allowing them to offer the latest in care to people living in their local communities. Like New London and Waupaca, the Shawano hospital will maintain its local board of directors.

As for the community-owned ThedaCare, it continues to grow and once Shawano is fully incorporated will be by far the largest employer in the New North, with nearly 6,000 workers.

As medical technology continues to advance (and become more expensive), it would have been difficult for Shawano Medical Center to remain independent and financially viable. The deal with ThedaCare will insure that Shawano has a strong, local hospital for years to come.

— By MaryBeth Matzek