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Aspirus Plans to Expand Care in the Northwoods with Acquisition of Ascension Healthcare Sites

Over the next few months, Aspirus will own an additional seven hospitals, 21 physician clinics, and air and ground medical transport services across the Northwoods.

Aspirus Health Care announced Tuesday it signed an agreement to acquire these Ascension sites.

The transition includes the following Ascension hospitals:

  • Eagle River Hospital in Eagle River
  • Good Samaritan Hospital in Merrill
  • Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff
  • Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Stanley
  • Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk
  • St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander
  • St. Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point

Aspirus President and CEO Matthew Heywood said he’s excited about the transition. Heywood said part of the transition had to do with the amount and type of care the north central Wisconsin healthcare market can support in terms of tertiary or specialty care systems.

“When you’re getting care in a rural market, you need to be able to integrate, seamlessly integrate into a high quality, quality tertiary center that can provide the additional support you may need,” said Heywood. “By having Ascension sell these assets to us and have these individuals join us they’ll be able to seamlessly be part of our integrated health care system.”

The transition is still in the early stages. There’s not a lot of details.

Heywood said Aspirus will be working with Ascension over the next few months to make a smooth transition with minimal disruptions to patient care.

Aspirus will be acquiring Ascension employees. Heywood also said there no plans at this time to sell or close any of the newly acquired sites.

“If you look at historically, Aspirus’s tradition is we want to continue to keep rural health care local and we want to make it the highest quality of care that you can possibly make it,” said Heywood.

Heywood says Aspirus hopes to expand care in these communities.

Last year, Marshfield Clinic took over total control of the hospital it shared with Ascension in Park Falls. Ascension also sold St. Clare’s Hospital in Weston.

WXPR has reached out to Ascension for an interview and have not gotten a response at the time this article was posted.

WXPR also reached out to Marshfield Clinic for a statement on the news that Aspirus was to acquire the Ascension sites.

A spokesperson with Marshfield Clinic responded with this statement:

Today’s news will lead to change for many people in central and northern Wisconsin. What won’t change is Marshfield Clinic Health System’s commitment to our patients and communities by delivering world-class, accessible and compassionate health care.

We are leaders and innovators in the delivery of rural health care, research and medical education. From Stevens Point to Minocqua, and from Weston to Eau Claire, our more than 50 medical clinics and hospitals and comprehensive health plan are dedicated to providing consumers across central and northern Wisconsin the care they need and deserve close to home. We have also demonstrated our resolve and commitment to Wisconsin throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing care, leadership, resources, funding and information. When families face challenges, we are there to answer their questions and address their concerns. We are here for our patients and anyone else who seeks care.”

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the transition process.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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