Ascension Wisconsin to absorb Columbia Center Birth Hospital

Ascension expected to continue providing obstetrical services


Columbia Center Birth Hospital in Mequon is ceasing operations as a specialty hospital and will transition its services to Ascension Wisconsin.

Columbia Center Birth Hospital is located on the Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee Campus in Mequon.

Candy Casey, president and chief executive officer of Columbia Center Birth Hospital, said Thursday that the hospital’s board made the decision after assessing the long-term financial viability of the hospital.

“We’re financially and operationally viable and stable, but, long-term, due to the changes in the market and the competition, as a small specialty hospital, our financial challenges would be great,” Casey said. “So we want to be responsible stewards of our resources and therefore our board decided to cease operations as a specialty hospital.”

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The Birth Hospital, which is located on Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee Campus, was created in 2001 to provide elective sterilizations to patients, which had historically been provided by Columbia Hospital. In 1995, St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee joined with Columbia Hospital to establish Columbia St. Mary’s.

The Birth Hospital moved from Columbia St. Mary’s former Newport Avenue campus to the Ozaukee campus in 2007.

The hospital has about 75 employees. They are expected to be retained with the transition of obstetrical services to Ascension, Casey said.

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The Birth Hospital does about 550 births annually and has the only hospital-based doula program in Wisconsin, Casey said.

“We’re not a big operation but our staff has been exceptional,” she said. “The staff are just fabulous and do a marvelous job and I have every expectation that they will continue as we make this transition to serve the patients well. And for the patients, the transition should be seamless.”

Casey directed additional inquiries about the transition of services, including whether the Catholic health system will continue to perform elective sterilizations at the hospital, to Ascension representatives.

The transition is expected to be completed by July 1, Casey said.

Casey said the move reflects a wider trend of consolidation in the health care industry.

“It’s the change we’re seeing all around us. You don’t get economies of scales or efficiencies with small organizations,” she said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to provide since 2001, but we see that the future would be very challenging remaining as a specialty hospital.”

Kelly Elkins, president of Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, issued a statement Friday:

“We recognize this was a difficult decision for Columbia Center Birth Hospital to make and Ascension Wisconsin is committed to honoring the unique birthing experience provided here. We’ve had a strong working relationship and while we understand change is difficult, we look forward to continuing the tradition of exceptional patient experience and quality care. As we transition OB and women’s health services to Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee, we will make continuity of care for patients and a smooth transition for the clinical staff our priority over the coming months. As a Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to its mission of caring for all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable and follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”

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