ThedaCare, Community Health Network Announce Intent to Affiliate

Community Health Network

Agreement Based on Shared Commitment to Strengthen Healthcare Options for Wisconsin Communities

Community Health Network (CHN), a not-for-profit healthcare network in Berlin and surrounding communities, and ThedaCare™, a community-owned, Northeast Wisconsin not-for-profit health system, have agreed to the terms of a letter of intent to affiliate.

The ThedaCare Board of Trustees met Mon., Jan. 13, and the Community Health Network Board met Tues., Jan. 14, and agreed on the core elements of an affiliation that are good for both organizations.

“It makes sense to come together,” said John Feeney, CEO and President of Community Health Network. “The changing healthcare environment is requiring organizations like us and ThedaCare to look for ways to enhance healthcare quality, deliver healthcare more cost-effectively, reduce duplication, and improve the patient experience. The best way to achieve this is by working together rather than being competitors. Community Health Network and ThedaCare have worked together successfully in the past, partnering on programs that address acute heart attacks, ThedaStar air medical and a program with the Family Birth Center to stabilize care of sick infants. This affiliation with ThedaCare is a win/win for both organizations.”

“We’ve always believed that 95 percent of the care most people need can and should be delivered within the local community,” said Dr. Dean Gruner, President and CEO of ThedaCare. “That is why we think it is important that those patients who already receive great care from Community Health Network be able to stay in their communities for local care. ThedaCare has successfully affiliated with other community healthcare organizations in New London, Waupaca and Shawano, and we are honored that we will now work with Community Health Network to provide expanded service options for their patients.”

Dr. Gruner and Feeney shared some benefits of the affiliation, including:

  • Streamlined access to care for patients
  • Minimal duplication of services
  • Continuation of a strong local voice including a local Board of Directors
  • A no-layoff philosophy for the 800 Community Health Network employees
  • Access to more financial resources
  • Participation in quality improvement projects that have led to reduced waiting times, improved patient care, and a better patient experience at a lower cost

In addition to some proposed capital investments, ThedaCare also will install its electronic medical records system (EMR) at Community Health Network in 2014. “The rapidly changing healthcare environment requires a strong electronic infrastructure,” Dr. Gruner added. “As one of our first steps in our affiliation, ThedaCare and Community Health Network will work together to implement the Epic medical records system at all Community Health Network locations. This will help the information flow not only between them and ThedaCare, but also between Community Health Network and the other healthcare providers in our area that are using the Epic platform.”

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Community Health Network has created a network that is changing the way we embrace our communities. To fulfill the CHN mission – to provide superior services to improve the health of those we serve – the CHN Medical Group consists of more than 35 physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, providing services at two hospitals, Berlin Memorial Hospital and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital, and 10 CHN Medical Centers (community-based primary care facilities) located throughout central Wisconsin. Medical Centers are located throughout four counties – Green Lake, Waushara, Marquette, and Fond du Lac.

ThedaCare (www.thedacare.org) is a community-owned health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. In addition, it has ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare At Work, ThedaCare At Home and other health care services. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with nearly 6,100 employees.