Ascension Wisconsin enters joint venture to open small-scale neighborhood hospitals

Partnering with micro-hospital operator Emerus Holdings

The Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee campus.

Ascension Wisconsin has entered a joint venture with Texas-based neighborhood hospital operator Emerus Holdings, Inc., to open several small-scale hospitals in Wisconsin, the organizations announced Wednesday.

The Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee campus.

Under the partnership, Emerus will build and operate several neighborhood hospitals — often called “micro-hospitals” — over the next two years. Each of the hospitals would be developed as part of a larger two-story health complex that would include the hospital on the first floor, and additional Ascension Wisconsin ambulatory services — such as primary care, specialty care, freestanding imaging and outpatient surgery services — on the second floor.

The organizations did not specify the number of facilities that are planned or their possible locations.

“As Ascension Wisconsin continues to grow our priority is to make health care easier to access and more convenient for consumers,” said Bernie Sherry, senior vice president of Ascension Healthcare and ministry market executive of Ascension Wisconsin. “This model provides an innovative way to integrate inpatient and outpatient services while keeping care close to home. This will be our focus as we increase our presence in the communities we are privileged to serve.”

The hospitals will be staffed by emergency medicine physicians and will be open 24/7, the organizations said.

“We are honored to partner with Ascension Wisconsin, as it expands its footprint in Wisconsin,” said Craig Goguen, CEO of Emerus. “Ascension Wisconsin is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to people living in poverty and those most vulnerable. That is perfectly aligned with our vision and is a key reason why Emerus is excited about this new partnership.”

The neighborhood hospital concept has emerged as a growing trend as health systems look to offer more cost-effective and streamlined care. Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin is partnering with Tandem Hospital Partners, a Houston, Texas-based firm that operates several other neighborhood hospitals across the country, to open micro-hospitals in Oak Creek and Mequon. 

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.