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Eau Claire City Attorney Calls for Investigation into HSHS Closures

Eau Claire City Attorney Calls for Investigation into HSHS Closures

April 17, 2024 4:14 PM CDT
By: James Kelly

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Eau Claire City Attorney Stephen Nick has sent a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to investigate the HSHS closures.

In the letter, Nick highlighted how abruptly hospitals can close in the state, leaving the healthcare field devastated in their wake. He accused HSHS of closing the hospitals without reasonable notice, coordination, and with little regard for the effects it would have on both the employees and their patients.

Even further, Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire was originally scheduled to close this week, with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls scheduled to close in late March. Unexpectedly, HSHS announced that Sacred Heart Hospital would close alongside St. Joseph’s. That announcement was made about two weeks before the scheduled closure of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

In the wake of the announcement, local and state leaders have scrambled to come up with solutions to the growing healthcare crisis in the region. The Wisconsin State Legislature approved $15 million in reallocated funding for emergency departments in the area, but the Joint Finance Committee has refused to release the funds after Governor Tony Evers used line item vetoes to make the funding more flexible.

In the letter sent to the DHS, Nick said the HSHS executive team failed to disclose that they were considering closing the hospitals, forcing state and local leaders into an emergency response. He accused the executive team of considering the closure for nearly two years without notifying local leaders of the possibility.

Nick says what happened in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls should serve as a warning to other rural residents who could see their hospitals “cut and run” like HSHS.

In conclusion, Nick asked the Department of Health Services to investigate if the executive leadership of HSHS have met, and continues to meet, all of their legal responsibilities regarding the closure.

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