Medical center marks 1-year anniversary

CEO says facility attracting more doctors
By: 

Leader Staff

It’s been a year since ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano opened its doors to the public, replacing the 80-year-old Shawano Medical Center, and hospital officials on the first anniversary are touting the benefits the new facility has provided for the community.

“Throughout the three years of planning and construction, we all trusted that we were part of something historically significant for Shawano,” said Dorothy Erdmann, CEO of ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. “Our decision to build new has reaped rewards in ways we are still discovering.”

According to ThedaCare officials, the new medical center is drawing additional doctors in spite of a competitive environment.

“The health network recently welcomed two new family physicians to ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano and two more are scheduled to come next year, along with several nurse practitioners — this in spite of a critical national shortage of family practice providers in rural areas,” ThedaCare said in a news release.

Erdmann said both patients and staff appreciate having one centralized location for primary care, labs and diagnostics, visiting specialists and therapy.

“We were never able to experience together a modernized space that connects all these services within walking distance and out of the elements,” Erdmann said. “Now staff members see each other in the hallways and know more about each other’s skills and interests. We serve our patients better and reduce their stress over the logistics of accessing care.”

Patient care units are served by four separate nursing hubs, just steps away from a small number of patient rooms. The design of the new hospital emphasizes views of nature and natural lighting. Spaces have been designed to flex for different purposes, including visiting specialists, and weekend and walk-in clinics.

According to Erdmann, Shawano has also seen new visitors come to the city for hospital services that they would otherwise seek in larger regional centers.

“Access is so easy, and there are no traffic worries,” she said. “It’s a combination of small-town charm and excellent medical care that attracts patients here.”

The medical center’s emergency and walk in care departments continue to serve more people, Erdmann said, and ThedaCare added valet parking in response to patient and community needs.

The hospital did not have statistics on the number of patients using the new facility compared to the old Shawano Medical Center.

However, according to Erdmann, “our revenues, before write-offs and expenses, are up 6.4 percent, which signifies we have grown. Our very important ED grew 3 percent and outpatient surgeries 5 percent. As with other medical centers, we continue to shift towards the majority of our care (being) outpatient, which is 85 percent of the care we provide.”

The new hospital won the honor of Service Business of the Year in the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce awards in January for top businesses of 2015.

Chamber Executive Director Nancy Smith said the health care provider was very deserving of the recognition because of its contribution both as a boost to the local economy and as an enhancement to the community in general.

“They are not just a large employer providing higher paying jobs, but provide services that help keep our workforce productive,” she said. “In a time when so many community hospitals are closing, we are fortunate that our hospital will continue offering services locally in the new medical center.”

The year has not been without its growing pains, however.

An old and abandoned water main feeding a fire hydrant allowed water to enter the building on Aug. 9, causing flooding and water damage.

While most of the patient care areas affected by the flooding were reopened by the end of the month, the stress lab, nuclear medicine, sleep study and one general radiology room were deemed in need of demolition, requiring up to eight weeks for repair.

The grand opening last year for the 128,000-square-foot facility at 100 County Road B drew several hundred visitors who viewed a ribbon-cutting and took part in the open house and tours of the $52 million hospital.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College also showcased its new 5,000-square-foot nurse education center, located as part of a shared learning center inside the medical center.

The cooperative learning center, the first of its kind in Wisconsin, will be used by about 60 NWTC nursing students per year and current ThedaCare staff for orientations and continuing education.

Hospital staff celebrated the one-year anniversary Tuesday with angel food cupcakes.

ThedaCare, which operates six other hospitals and 35 clinics in Wisconsin, had been competing with Shawano Medical Center for many years by offering similar services at the local outpatient clinic. The two competitors forged an alliance in 2011 and began making plans for a new hospital.

As for the old hospital property, ThedaCare has been working in partnership with the city of Shawano during the past two years to find creative redevelopment opportunities for the site.

A task force recommended senior housing, residential housing and a lodge-themed boutique hotel.

ThedaCare and the city issued requests for proposals to developers earlier this year. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 30, with a goal of selecting a developer later this year so construction can start in 2017.