Kenosha’s United Health System to become Froedtert South

Two hospital systems sign letter of intent to expand affiliation

Froedert Hospital

Wauwaotsa-based Froedtert Health has signed a letter of intent to expand its affiliation with Kenosha’s United Hospital System effective Oct. 1.

Under the agreement, United Hospital System, which has campuses in Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie, will adopt the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin brand and will change its name to Froedtert South.

Froedert Hospital.
Froedert Hospital.

The two organizations will also share electronic health records. United Hospital System will continue to operate as a locally-led organization with its own administrative departments, medical group leadership and credentialing.

“Our two health care systems have had a relationship for many years and we share many similar values,” said Catherine Jacobson, president and chief executive officer of Froedtert Health. “Recent discussions about partnering in an Epic (medical record software) implementation led to conversations about a deeper affiliation that would enhance care quality, coordination and better serve patients.”

Ric Schmidt, president, chief executive officer and general counsel of United Hospital System, said the partnership will expand the breadth and depth of health care services available in Kenosha.

“As the health care landscape continues its dramatic, unpredictable shift, it makes sense to align more closely with an academic medical center partner we already know and trust,” Schmidt said. “This affiliation is designed to support our responsiveness to our patients and our presence in the community.”

The move comes as Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care continues to expand its presence in Kenosha County. In January, Aurora announced plans for a $130 million medical office building and an outpatient care center west of Interstate 94 in Kenosha.

Froedtert has had a long-standing relationship with United Health, with its CEO serving as a non-voting board member since 2001.

Froedtert Health and United Hospital System have been in discussions about a possible partnership since United lost its 25 percent owner, Wheaton Franciscan Health Care, last summer when Wheaton merged with Ascension Health, Jacobson said.

Jacobson said discussions intensified in January, but were not related to Aurora expansion in the area.

“It’s more of the macro environment,” Jacobson said. “Ric has a good (sense of) what is going on in Kenosha and Kenosha is heating up. Everyone wants to be down there and we have been having strategic conversations, way before Aurora (announced expansion plans), about the United Hospital System of the future.”

Jacobson said both systems are looking at where their strengths are and how specific health care services, such as cancer care, could be added to Kenosha County.

“We’ve done this before,” Jacobson said. “We are an academic medical center that knows how to go into community and bring what we can to differentiate ourselves. This is an extension of our strategy that we have been successful at to date.”

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