Milwaukee (AP) – St. Michael Hospital, started in Milwaukee 65 years ago, will
cease operations after suffering millions of dollars a year in losses blamed in
large part on treatment of the uninsured, often for emergency room care, officials
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, formerly Covenant Healthcare
System, doesnt have the ability to fund indefinitely the types of
losses weve incurred at St. Michaels, said John Oliverio, president
and CEO of Wheaton Franciscan.
He said St. Michael, located on Milwaukees
north side, would close the emergency room and most other departments June 5.
Franciscan plans to expand the emergency room and other operations at another
Milwaukee hospital, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, to meet community needs,
Also, an inpatient unit will be added at Wheaton Franciscans
St. Francis Hospital, on Milwaukees south side, to handle mental health
patients from St. Michael, he said.
Some outpatient services of St. Michael
will continue, but under the St. Joseph name, he said.
Oliverio said he
expected that at least 225 of the 722 full- and part-time employees of St. Michael
will be placed in positions elsewhere in Wheaton Franciscan facilities, and others
would be offered severance or help in finding placement with other medical centers.
Michael opened at a downtown Milwaukee site in 1941 and moved in 1957 to its present
St. Michael reported losing $22.9 million in its 2005 fiscal year,
ending last June 30, and projected a loss of $26.3 million for fiscal 2006, the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Oliverio said St. Michael has
been hurt by the high proportion of patients seeking emergency room care. Serving
uninsured people through emergency rooms typically is a losing proposition for
The Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center said 69
percent of admissions to St. Michael go to the emergency room, compared with the
nationwide average of around 40 percent.
Officials of Aurora Sinai Medical
Center in downtown Milwaukee and Columbia St. Marys on the east side said
they anticipate increases in emergency room visits with the closing of the St.
Michael emergency room.
Patricia McManus, executive director of the Black
Health Coalition of Wisconsin, said hospital systems and the public sector should
take action to provide community clinics that can offer health care for the poor.
think we all have the responsibility to make sure uninsured people receive
basic health care, McManus said.