The process of finding a replacement for the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division’s Mental Health Complex in Wauwatosa is expected to speed up now that just one proposal remains in the county’s search for an organization to provide care for patients currently served at its psychiatric hospital.
Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services Inc. is the sole remaining applicant seeking to run an acute-care psychiatric hospital as the county looks to close its Mental Health Complex at 9455 W. Watertown Plank Rd.
The county first began its search for an organization or company to outsource those services to in 2015, with Universal Health Services and Nashville-based Correct Care Solutions emerging as two viable possibilities early on.
In April, a consortium of three area providers, including Rogers Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Ascension, submitted a last-minute joint proposal. The county task force commissioned with making a recommendation agreed at that point to hold off on making a decision until October to give consideration to the proposal.
Correct Care Solutions pulled out its proposal shortly after, narrowing the pool down to UHS and the consortium of local providers. The latter group withdrew its bid in September, which has left UHS as the remaining applicant.
Michael Lappen, administrator of the Behavioral Health Division, said the remaining proposal is undergoing the same level of evaluation as it would if there were a larger pool of applicants. He said he doesn’t expect the county will solicit additional bids.
“We’re still going to complete the due diligence, but at this point, this is really our last remaining candidate,” he said. “… If this failed to work out, we would have to go back to the drawing board. But (UHS has) made every indication that they will make a viable proposal and their experience in other markets indicates that they certainly are capable of this, so I’m expecting a viable proposal.”
The task force last week established a timeline for reviewing the proposal. UHS will submit a formal written proposal by Nov. 6, which will be reviewed by a committee of clinical and financial evaluation teams. The task force is expected to make a recommendation as early as February 2018, at which point negotiations would begin.
If the proposal is ultimately approved, patients could be served in a new facility in mid-2020 at earliest, Lappen said.
Lappen said UHS has not disclosed the location of its proposed new hospital to the BHD or task force, but that it does have a site identified.
“I would expect that they are going to try to find a central place because they recognize that they are serving the whole community,” Lappen said.