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Health care gap emerges amid development boon for Kenosha, Racine counties

Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital which earned a ‘D’ safety rating is 24 miles north of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, which received the highest possible rating, an “A” grade. (Photo courtesy of Northwestern Medicine)

While Kenosha and Racine counties are experiencing a development boon, employers and developers are missing a key piece for incoming residents and construction workers: Healthcare.

In Kenosha, city officials and developers announced plans for a nine-block downtown redevelopment project to replace empty lots with around 1,000 new apartments, and similarly transform the 107-acre former Chrysler plant. In nearby Racine County, Microsoft entered an agreement to build buy 315 acres and build a $1 billion data center in the village of Mount Pleasant.

However, the nonprofit Leapfrog Group gave Froedtert Kenosha Hospital and Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital “D” safety ratings and gave a “C” rating to Aurora Medical Center Kenosha.

Tim Casey, Director of Community Development for Kenosha, said he worked with developers for projects across the city and said he hadn’t heard anyone raise quality healthcare as an issue in the market. He noted there were multiple clinics and other entities that approached the city in the last year actively looking to provide additional area healthcare.

“I’ve never heard one person mention the quality of healthcare in this market as an issue while they’re considering investments in multifamily or single-family residential development,” Casey added.

Froedtert South officials reviewed patient care records and don’t believe Leapfrog’s data accurately reflected its outcomes due to documentation and “data abstraction errors,” Froedtert South Executive Vice President Susan Ventura said.

The hospital system said they don’t participate in Leapfrog but was aware of Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data for its hospitals from July of 2019 to December 2019 and July of 2020 to June of 2021, Ventura noted. The gap in the data is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and includes incidence of infections, complications after surgery, safety problems and patient experience, she added.

The hospital system instructed its physicians and educated its staff to take more accurate documentation and data, Ventura said.

Hospitals get rated based on several factors, including: infection, surgery, safety, and error prevention. A chart indicates whether the hospital is in the green (better-than-average rating), yellow (average), or red (worse-than-average rating). A chart allows hospitals to see their ranking based on the respective weighted factors.

“Hospitals that earn top marks often advertise their grades and ratings to try to attract more patients and dollars, while those that do poorly question the methodology behind the grades and argue that they don’t paint a full picture of a hospital’s quality,” Chicago Tribune reported, noting Leapfrog releases grades twice annually with ratings based on more than 30 measures of patient safety from the federal government, a Leapfrog survey, and other sources.

“One of the most significant problems with today’s health care system is the failure to make safety and quality information available to the public. But the public deserves this information so they can make informed choices about where to receive care. The purpose of the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is to bring this information to light in a way that is easy for you – the consumer – to use,” Leapfrog said on its website.

In 2018, TMJ4 reported practices at Froedtert/Medical College of Wisconsin may have caused avoidable deaths for patients waiting on life-saving organs, which captured the attention of federal investigators.

Meanwhile, just 24 miles south of Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital sits Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, which received the highest possible rating, an “A” grade.

In April, Froedtert and Neenah-based ThedaCare announced it signed a letter of intent to merge into one organization. The two organizations will be governed by a parent board of board members from both organizations and two board members from the boards of Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert Health, officials added.

The Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA), a business organization and economic developer on the border between Wisconsin and Illinois, declined to comment after The Daily Reporter reached out.

Aurora Healthcare earned “A” grades at its Green Bay, Grafton, Two Rivers, Oshkosh, Hartford, Sheboygan and Summit Hospitals. Froedtert’s main campus in Milwaukee and Froedtert Menomonee Falls also received “A” grades as well.

Froedtert South, which operates Kenosha, Pleasant Prairie and Paddock Lake, Wis., had 5,795 patient admissions as of June 30, 2022, according to Froedtert.

Steve Schuster contributed to this report.

About Ethan Duran

Ethan Duran is the construction and development reporter at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 551-7505 or [email protected]

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