Uncertainty in Western Wisconsin Rural Health Care: The Impact of HSHS and Prevea Closures

Interview with HSHS CEO discusses closures of HSHS and Prevea locations

HSHS and Prevea locations in western Wisconsin have recently closed down, leaving rural health care in the region in a state of uncertainty. President and CEO Damond Boatwright of HSHS spoke with Catholic Health World’s Julie Minda about the closure and its implications for rural health care. WEAU has also requested to speak with Boatwright but is waiting for a response.

In an interview with Minda, Boatwright explained how vulnerable populations, Medicaid, and Medicare might have played a role in the health care dynamics of the region. He stated that over 60% of those populations used HSHS hospitals. Additionally, Boatwright discussed attempts made by the organization to change its situation before making the decision to close. These attempts included creating its own insurance company and identifying potential Catholic systems to partner with, offering them right of first refusal. When none were interested or able to, HSHS tried to reach an agreement with a potential non-Catholic partner but couldn’t.

Boatwright commented on how the market was oversupplied and that there were more than enough health care offerings in the community. The reaction of the impacted communities was mirrored as they went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and eventually acceptance. When asked about how HSHS left the area, Boatwright said that many other organizations in similar circumstances that are not Catholic would have just left the market without any regard for the collateral damage caused by this action. However, HSHS reached out to other health care providers to collaborate on transitioning patients and early on reached out to elected officials as well.

Overall, Boatwright emphasized that despite people not being ready for this change, it was important for HSHS to continue leading with their values and do what is right even if it means facing some backlash from certain communities.

WEAU is still waiting for a response from President Damond Boatwright regarding their request for an interview on the closing of HSHS and Prevea locations in western Wisconsin and what it means for rural health care.

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