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Site plan approved for new Eau Claire cancer center

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Eau Claire’s planning commission has approved a site plan for a proposed cancer center despite concerns that it won’t address some of the region’s medical needs.

The Marshfield Clinic Health System’s former partner is concerned the new center and a proposed adjoining hospital won’t address significant treatment needs for mental health and alcohol and drug abuse, the Leader-Telegram reported. Opponents are mostly members of the Hospital Sisters Health System, which oversees Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals, where Marshfield has leased space to provide medical care since the 1990s.

St. Joseph Hospital president Joan Coffman said it doesn’t make sense to have the new center and hospital because about half of the region’s existing hospital beds are vacant at any given time. Coffman said more services are needed for mental health and alcohol and drug abuse, “but those issues don’t appear to be addressed by this project.”

Eau Claire County Supervisor David Mortimer said the parts of the Hospital Sisters Health System that are profitable help subsidize the system’s inpatient behavioral health and addiction treatment.

“If a new cancer center and hospital just capture profitable market share services without providing for the unprofitable services that at-risk and disadvantaged, vulnerable citizens need, this new hospital will actually harm our community,” said Mortimer, who is employed by Hospital Sisters Health System.

Members of the Eau Claire Plan Commission said they approved the site plan because it meets regulations. The cancer center is scheduled to open next year and the hospital in 2018, and both are set to be built at the same site.


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