NEW INFORMATION: Marshfield Clinic announces new hospital, cancer care center in Eau Claire

Courtesy: Marshfield Clinic Health System
Courtesy: Marshfield Clinic Health System(WEAU)
Published: Jun. 17, 2016 at 11:10 AM CDT
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A long-time healthcare provider in the Chippewa Valley announces it is expanding.

Marshfield Clinic unveiled plans Friday morning to build a state of the art hospital and cancer care center on the west side of Eau Claire. With the expansion comes the demolition of a long-standing hotel.

Hospital administrators say the multi-story building will be located at the site of the Plaza Hotel and Suites.

Marshfield Clinic leaders say their main aim of this project is providing low-cost, quality health care in the Chippewa Valley.

While the plans for this project are still very fluid, Marshfield Clinic says the impact of the new buildings will be felt across the area.

Dr. Narayana Murali, the executive director of Marshfield clinic and his team have been meeting for the last two years, discussing how to expand services in the Eau Claire area.

“The new hospital would be a fairly large facility and we expect to cover a large portion of the community,” Dr. Murali explained.

Preliminary plans depict the hospital as a multi-story building, although at this point Marshfield Clinic is still determining the exact size and scope of the building.

“We want to make sure we don’t build too much. We want to make sure it’s an efficient building but have the opportunity to grow in the future,” Marshfield Clinic West District Administrator Scott Pollenz said.

With a focus on lowering the cost of healthcare in our area, the new facility will enhance specialty services like heart care, sports medicine, pain management and pediatrics to name just a few.

“At the end of the day it’s about lowering care costs,” Pollenz added.

The hospital building would be constructed at the current site of the Plaza Hotel and Suites, which will be demolished to make way for the new building.

The owner of the Plaza, Mike Rivers, told WEAU 13 News the hotel will run business as usual until November. At that point furniture will be removed to make way for demolition. Rivers says the decision was made partially because of the age of the hotel building.

As for the 85 full and part time employees at the Plaza, Marshfield Clinic has met with hotel leaders to discuss future employment options.

“They are all in the hospitality industry and what we are trying to do is exactly the same. We are trying to provide a hospital, hotel like environment. We will be looking to see how we can absorb these people into our organization to provide care,” Dr. Murali explained.

Rivers says a small handful of Plaza hotel employees will likely transfer over to the Best Western Plus in Eau Claire on Mondovi Road. That building is also owned by Rivers. Moving forward, Rivers says the hotel will be fully operational for events and guests until November 1st. Rivers says employees of the Plaza have been offered, “a significant incentive” to stay with the hotel until it closes in late fall.

Here is the current plan moving forward for the Marshfield Clinic project.

• Demolition will begin on the Plaza hotel winter of 2016.

• Groundbreaking for the hospital will take place in spring of 2017.

• The cancer care center will open by fall of 2017

• The hospital is slated to open in 2018

The City of Eau Claire says they are aware of the proposed construction of the new hospital; however, plans still need to be approved by the city. That’s expected to happen by late summer or early fall.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Media Release, Marshfield Clinic Health System)- Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) today announced its new “Caring for the Chippewa Valley” plan to build a hospital with attached cancer care on land the Clinic has purchased near its Eau Claire campus. MCHS officials said owning and operating a state-of-the-art hospital in Eau Claire is an important move that allows the organization to offer the highest level of care locally while gaining more control over the cost and quality of care it has provided in the community for more than two decades.

“Data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association shows residents in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley face some of the highest health care costs in the state, and building a new hospital puts MCHS in a strong position to start to change that,” said Dr. Susan Turney, MCHS CEO. “Our ‘Caring for the Chippewa Valley’ program makes us a truly integrated local health care system. This allows MCHS to maximize efficiencies and start reducing patient costs while providing even higher quality care and a great patient experience.

“We’ve essentially had two legs of a three-legged stool in the Chippewa Valley – world-class outpatient care at multiple local facilities, along with insurance through Security Health Plan of Wisconsin,” Turney said. “Adding inpatient care with our own, modern hospital with connected cancer care services gives us the third leg and puts us in an excellent position to make a real difference on care levels and cost for patients in the region.”

Dr. Narayana Murali, the Clinic’s chief clinical strategy officer, said that MCHS is in the process of evaluating the determining the optimal size and scope for the new hospital and will share more information, including an anticipated construction budget, when available. He said the new hospital will enhance specialty services MCHS provides in the Chippewa Valley, including heart care, orthopedics and sports medicine, general surgery, plastic surgery, ENT, neurosurgery, obstetrics/gynecology, bariatric surgery, vein care, pain management and pediatrics. The facility will be constructed to take advantage of green space, use environmentally sensitive building materials and methods, feature patient views of the Chippewa River and include the latest technology in electronic record-keeping, communications and patient care.

“Integration of advanced computer technology, state-of-the-art equipment and better communications tools will help deliver even better health care in the Chippewa Valley,” Murali said. “So much of health care – from record-keeping to surgery scheduling to patient monitoring – is now based on digital technology. MCHS, through its Marshfield Clinic Information Services, already has award-winning technology in place. Putting these and other new tools together with our world-class physicians and staff will result in a less expensive, higher quality and more positive experience for patients.”

The new Chippewa Valley cancer care location is expected to be staffed by the same doctors, nurses and other employees currently working at the Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care at Sacred Heart Hospital. The new facility will feature more patient privacy, expanded clinical services and all the programs now offered at the existing center.

Initial reports show the new hospital will create hundreds of jobs and have other positive local economic impacts, Turney said.

“We’re very excited about the new hospital, not only because it will be staffed by the Marshfield Clinic doctors, nurses and other associates our local patients have come to know and trust, but also because it gives us the chance to create even more good employment opportunities in the Chippewa Valley,” she said. “That’s important to us. We’ve been part of Wisconsin for a century and part of Eau Claire since 1992. We’re proud of our role as one of the region’s largest employers and of our century-strong heritage of being an active and involved member of the communities we serve.”

The hospital will be built at 1202 W. Clairemont Ave., current site of the Plaza Hotel & Suites. MCHS has purchased the real estate, and the hotel business will continue to operate the Plaza through December. The building will be razed over the winter, and groundbreaking is scheduled for spring of 2017. The cancer care location is tentatively set to open in fall of 2017, with the hospital opening expected the following year, Turney said. Cancer care services will continue to be provided at Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care at Sacred Heart Hospital until the transition.

MCHS will work closely with the City of Eau Claire, which must issue approval to build.