Ascension rebrands its Wisconsin hospitals

Health care system to add Ascension name to acquired facilities

L: Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee. R: Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph Campus in Milwaukee.

Six months after St. Louis-based Ascension officially acquired Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, the hospital system has announced plans to unify its 24 Wisconsin hospitals and 111 primary care clinics under the Ascension brand.

L: Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee. R: Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph Campus in Milwaukee.
L: Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee. R: Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph Campus in Milwaukee.

Ascension has been acquiring Wisconsin hospital systems since 1999, when it bought Columbia St. Mary’s and its three hospitals and several clinics in the Milwaukee area. The St. Louis-based health care system then acquired Ministry Health Care and Affinity Health System in 2013 and completed its purchase of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare this March.

A BizTimes cover story in December examined several aspects of the merger with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.

Under the new branding strategy, Columbia St. Mary’s will become Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s, for example, and Wheaton Franciscan’s St. Joseph Hospital will become Ascension St. Joseph.

The four Wisconsin hospital systems Ascension acquired since 1999 have been able to keep their brands up until this point. Now wrapped under the brand Ascension Wisconsin, the 24 hospitals and 111 primary care clinics across Wisconsin combined generate nearly $3.5 billion in annual operating revenue, making it the state’s second-largest health care system in terms of revenue.

Aurora Health Care’s 15 hospitals and more than 150 clinics in eastern Wisconsin pull in roughly $4.9 billion in annual revenue. Madison-based UW Health, the state’s third largest system, generates roughly $3.2 billion in annual revenue though its six hospitals and 80 outpatient sites.

Ascension Wisconsin’s new branding strategy is another step in the new health care system’s plan to integrate operations. In July, Ascension appointed two regional presidents to oversee operations at its northern- and southern-Wisconsin hospitals

Travis Andersen, former president and chief executive officer of Columbia St. Mary’s Health System, was appointed to lead Ascension’s southern Wisconsin hospitals. Debra Standridge former president of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare’s north market, was appointed to lead its northern Wisconsin hospitals.

In May, it was leaked that Wheaton Franciscan will lose six senior vice presidents and 10 vice presidents as the health systems integrate.

The six senior vice presidents were Wheaton’s Dr. Rita Hanson, chief medical officer; Greg Smith, chief information officer; Dr. Brenda Bowers, chief nursing officer; James Gresham, senior vice president of continuing care and clinical operations; Michael Lepore, senior vice president and chief administrative officer; and Wayne Frangesch, senior vice president of human resources.

The 10 vice presidents who will leave were not named.

Ascension Wisconsin’s south region includes the Columbia St. Mary’s system, the Wheaton Franciscan system and Affinity Health System in the Fox Valley. The north region includes the central and northern regions of Ministry Health Care.

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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