U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Senator Baldwin Calls on HSHS to Consider Delaying Closure, Be More Transparent, and Prioritize Patients and Employees

Baldwin: “The closure of a rural hospital is a serious matter and requires a thoughtful transition”

By - Feb 12th, 2024 01:15 pm

WISCONSIN – Today, Senator Tammy Baldwin called on the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) to do right by their patients, employees, and community members as they close hospitals and health care facilities across western Wisconsin. Earlier this year, HSHS announced they plan to close HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, along with all 19 Prevea Health locations in Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley. These closures announced by HSHS will result in the loss of emergency rooms, hospital beds, and critical care units, as well as access to maternal health care, behavioral health care, and dialysis treatments in western Wisconsin.

“Rural hospitals provide essential health care services and contribute to the economic well-being of their communities,” wrote Senator Baldwin in a letter to the President and CEO of HSHS. “As a mission-driven health care system, I urge you to abide by your stated values as you wind down operations at Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals. It is imperative that HSHS maintain transparency and communicate clear transition plans to patients, employees, and health care partners remaining in the region, as well as state and local government.”

“HSHS should consider delaying closures to ensure health care services continue to be available in the Chippewa Valley,” continued Senator Baldwin. “I expect that HSHS consider, in good faith, offers to purchase your facilities and equipment to support the continuation of health care services in the region for the patient populations served by Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals.”

In concluding the letter, Senator Baldwin reiterated that the hospital network has an obligation to its employees under federal and state law, and stressed she will follow up on any accusations of wrongdoing or mistreatment of HSHS’s Wisconsin employees, including early and unlawful termination.

A full version of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Mr. Boatwright,

I write to make you aware of the concern I have heard from patients, employees, and community members in response to your decision to close HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, along with all 19 Prevea Health locations in Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley. Rural hospitals provide essential health care services and contribute to the economic well-being of their communities. Therefore, the closure of a rural hospital is a serious matter and requires a thoughtful transition.

I was disappointed by your abrupt announcement, which will result in the loss of emergency rooms, hospital beds, and critical care units, as well as access to maternal health care, behavioral health care, and dialysis treatments in western Wisconsin. As a mission-driven health care system, I urge you to abide by your stated values as you wind down operations at Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals. It is imperative that HSHS maintain transparency and communicate clear transition plans to patients, employees, and health care partners remaining in the region, as well as state and local government.

As part of that transition, I urge you to make every effort to support the continuation of care, particularly as stakeholders and neighbors work together to fill the gap you are leaving behind. I expect that you will remain open and operational to provide all scheduled services until the dates included in your announcement and meet your obligations to patients and employees. Moreover, HSHS should consider delaying closures to ensure health care services continue to be available in the Chippewa Valley. I expect that HSHS consider, in good faith, offers to purchase your facilities and equipment to support the continuation of health care services in the region for the patient populations served by Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals.

I also want to remind you about your responsibilities to employees under federal and state law. It is my expectation that you continue to provide employees with the pay and benefits they are entitled to and that HSHS meet any other outstanding legal obligations. Should I receive any complaints of early termination from my constituents, I will work to ensure those allegations are fully investigated.

Sincerely,

A full version of this release is available here.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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