Frequently Asked Questions About the Impact of HSHS Closure in the Chippewa Valley
As of February 9, 2024; We will update this periodically.
Who is OakLeaf Medical Network?
OakLeaf Medical Network is the largest independent physician association in Western Wisconsin, with 26 clinics that care for over 30,000 primary care patients across 15 counties (list below). The OakLeaf Medical Network has over 320 medical providers (125 physicians) representing 40 specialties. In the Eau Claire area, OakLeaf Clinic is the largest provider, with seven locations in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Other providers across the network include Chippewa Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Confluence Health, Western Wisconsin Urology, and more (see full list below).
What is OLMN doing to help the patients who are losing their healthcare at HSHS and Prevea Clinics in Western Wisconsin?
- The 26 clinics of OLMN are working together to expand primary care and specialist capacity across the network to address the urgent need for patients to have medical care;
- Our clinics are actively hiring across different disciplines for current openings to support the 15 counties we provide services to;
- Our network physicians are taking active roles in community efforts to maintain hospital beds throughout the region; and
- We’re actively participating in the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie Chamber of Commerce HSHS/Prevea Recovery Task Forces
What is the status of OLMN’s communication to HSHS to negotiate to purchase Sacred Heart, Saint Joseph’s and Prevea properties to establish an independent community hospital?
We and many leaders across the western Wisconsin healthcare, business, and government communities believe that opening a not-for-profit independent community hospital in the Chippewa Valley is the best move to ensure that there are enough hospital beds and healthcare services for our growing region. Without the number of hospital beds and access to high-quality services that Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s have, our region simply does not have enough hospital and important ancillary service capacity for our community to thrive. All the hospitals in the region have stated that they are at or near capacity.
We reached out to HSHS on January 31st to start the negotiations for us to purchase the properties with the intent of creating a modern independent community hospital. Beyond acknowledging our letter, HSHS has not replied. We are optimistic that HSHS will come to the table to work with us and community partners to make this happen.
It’s important to understand that OLMN does not want or intend to own or operate Sacred Heart or St. Joseph’s in the short term, or any new hospital facility. Indeed, physicians can’t own hospitals. We started this conversation because we believe, and there is tremendous support for the idea, that an independent community hospital is the right answer for our broader community now that HSHS is exiting the region.
What can you share about the plan for moving forward?
We have hired nationally respected healthcare executive Mike Sanders of 1100 Partners to lead the effort to develop a detailed short-, medium-, and long-term plan to create an independent community hospital. Mr. Sanders is well known throughout Wisconsin for his efforts at Monroe Clinic and SSM Health, an award-winning integrated health system in Monroe, WI.
We hope to share that plan by early March.
As of February 9th, we haven’t received the information HSHS has shared with other medical institutions that would expedite our planning process. However, time is of the essence, and we are moving forward to draft a robust, viable plan.
What we know is that OLMN can’t do this alone and that there is tremendous community and professional support for this concept. To make it happen, we’re all going to have to work together to bring an independent community hospital to the region, and there will be many different opportunities for people to be involved.
I’ve heard so many rumors about the OLMN negotiations. What can you share?
We understand there are many rumors circulating about the HSHS closure and our request to negotiate with HSHS to keep the hospital open past the published closure date and develop an independent community hospital, and what may or may not happen. We’re sorry, we don’t have all of the specifics to share right now.
We, like the rest of the community, were stunned by the HSHS announcement that they are exiting western Wisconsin altogether. We’ve been working around the clock with many different community, healthcare, and business leaders to figure out an action plan while at the same time expanding our clinic capacity to handle the influx of patients. We will share our plan as soon as possible.
Ultimately, our independent clinics and physicians’ mission is to care for patients and help them live healthy, long lives.
Are OLMN clinics accepting new patients?
Yes, the 26 different clinics of OLMN are accepting new patients and have opened up capacity to be able to handle the influx of patients migrating from other systems.
Where do I go to find the right clinic for me?
You can contact a Primary Care physician at the following network clinics:
|Oakleaf Clinics – Eau Claire Medical Clinic and Chippewa Falls Divisions
|OakLeaf Clinics – Southside
|OakLeaf Clinics OBGYN
|OakLeaf Pine Grove (Stein)
|OakLeaf Pine Grove (Clairemont)
|Sunrise Family Care Clinic
How do I transfer my medical records to an OakLeaf Medical Network clinic?
Each OakLeaf Medical Network clinic can help you transfer your medical records to their clinic, as necessary. If patients would like a copy of their records, they should reach out to HSHS or Prevea. Many OLMN clinics use Epic and will have continued access to patient records.
What are the OakLeaf Medical Network clinics and physicians doing to address the healthcare crisis that is happening in the Chippewa Valley and greater Western Wisconsin area?
OLMN clinics and physicians have expanded their capacity to be able to accommodate the influx of patients who choose or prefer healthcare from independent physicians.
What’s the relationship between HSHS and OakLeaf Medical Network?
OLMN clinics have had a long-standing relationship with Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s. OLMN physicians admit more patients to HSHS hospitals than any other physician group. Since 2018, when Marshfield Clinic opened its 40-bed hospital in Eau Claire and withdrew its physicians from Sacred Heart, OLMN physicians have been staffing the hospital in critical medical positions. We were there for HSHS when Marshfield opened its hospital, and we remain committed to being here for the community going forward.
Can’t other hospitals accept HSHS patients?
The other hospitals in the region have publicly stated that they are working at or very near capacity. Emergency rooms are often on “diversion,” unable to accept any new patients. While we understand other hospitals are doing what they can to increase their capacity, no one hospital or even the hospitals working together can accommodate the 125–150 hospital beds that are regularly full at Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s. This is why we think an independent community hospital is the best answer for our region.
What is an independent community hospital?
All over the country and throughout Wisconsin, many municipalities and regions have worked together to build well-run, modern, independent community hospitals that effectively serve their constituents. We believe that our region needs an independent community hospital to complement what the other hospital systems in the area offer.
An independent community hospital is a healthcare facility that is not owned or operated by a larger healthcare system or network. These hospitals are typically standalone entities that serve a specific geographic area or community. They often provide a wide range of medical services, including emergency care, surgery, inpatient care, outpatient services, and sometimes specialized services, depending on the resources and needs of the community they serve.
These hospitals operate autonomously and make decisions at the local level, not through a corporate hierarchy. They are governed by a local community board, which allows them to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of the community.
What are the services that an independent community hospital in our region would need to offer?
At this point, we think that the first priority is keeping the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals open to stabilize the critical hospital beds and ancillary services that are used daily by our community. Ultimately, our plan will include recommendations on which services and specialties make most sense for our region based on medical census data, financial indicators, and other provider offerings.
Most urgent right now is to provide hospital beds for the over 900 babies that are anticipated to be born at the two hospitals, clinical and hyperbaric services for the 175+ wound care patients, dialysis slots for over 50 dialysis patients, surgery and procedure capacity to handle emergencies, and planned and unplanned surgery needs that can’t be accommodated elsewhere locally.