Children’s Wisconsin plans to add specialists in northeastern Wisconsin under new joint venture

Children’s Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.
Children’s Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.

Last updated on December 21st, 2021 at 01:53 pm

Children’s Wisconsin plans to add more specialists in the central and northeastern Wisconsin region as part of a new joint venture with Green Bay-based Bellin Health and Neenah-based ThedaCare.

In a press conference Thursday, leaders from the three health systems said their partnership will reduce the need for pediatric patients to travel from the central and northeastern region to Milwaukee for speciality care.

All three health systems will remain independent entities under the joint venture.

Children’s has an existing long-term relationship with ThedaCare; it has operated a pediatric hospital at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah since 2001. The Wauwatosa-based health system recently unveiled plans to expand its presence in the region by building a 50,000-square-foot outpatient clinic in Appleton, which is set to open in 2023.

“We’ve recognized the growing needs of children and adolescents in that market. This is a growing region,” said Peggy Troy, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Wisconsin. “So, it does allow us an opportunity to better address the needs of the kids through close collaboration … with leading health care organizations in that market.”

The new joint venture will add Bellin — whose system spans northeastern Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — to the Children’s-ThedaCare partnership while also expanding its scope. Bellin and ThedaCare also have an existing relationship, with their primary care networks together including 70 locations and 430 providers.

Bellin and ThedaCare family physicians and pediatricians would continue to serve as a patient’s “medical home” in northeastern Wisconsin, but the partnership will allow for more streamlined handoffs to Children’s specialists, rather than doing “one referral at a time,” Troy said.

Currently, about 20 Children’s subspecialists provide care in the northeastern region, and the health system plans to increase that number.

“We do believe at Children’s that we need to bring care closer to home,” Troy said. “We know that it is inconvenient to come to the Milwaukee campus for all their needs. And so, when it makes sense, we want to provide those services up in the market so it’s more convenient for families, parents don’t have to miss work and kids don’t have to miss school.”

A joint operating board with three representatives from each organization will govern the joint venture. The health systems will each remain responsible for the day-to-day operations of pediatric services at their clinics and facilities under the partnership.

When the new Children’s Appleton clinic opens, it will consolidate clinics currently offered at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah and the Children’s Wisconsin Fox Valley Child Advocacy Center. The health system currently handles about 50,000 visits for children living in the northeastern region. Because of existing clinical space, only about 20,000 of them happen at clinics in that region; the remaining 30,000 involve families traveling to the Milwaukee region, the health system said.

The new building will support up to 70,000 visits annually. New services at the clinic will include pediatric imaging and laboratory.

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