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Chippewa Valley Emergency Department Funding Bill Advances

Chippewa Valley Emergency Department Funding Bill Advances

February 15, 2024 11:58 AM CDT
By: James Kelly

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The bills for the reallocation of funding for Chippewa Valley Emergency Departments is quickly advancing in the state legislature.

The legislation was passed by Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Health Aging and Long-Term Care on Wednesday, and the State Senate Committee on Health is scheduled to vote on the matter on Thursday. If the bills pass in that committee, they could be on the floor of the Assembly and Senate for a vote as soon as next week.

The highlight of the legislation is the reallocation of $15 million to emergency departments in the Chippewa Valley. The funds were originally given to HSHS to allow them to expand their psychiatric care capabilities, but the organization never used the money.

Now that HSHS and Prevea have announced they are closing all of their Chippewa Valley locations, state lawmakers are hoping to use that money as a short-term solution to the closures. The organizations are expected to close most of their facilities by April 21st, and all of them by June 30th. One long-term solution in the works is the possible purchase of Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls by OakLeaf Medical Network.

Following the announcement, other healthcare organizations have announced an expansion in their services to minimize the impact for patients. The closure of Sacred Heart Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital poses the biggest challenge, as the Chippewa Valley is losing 104 medical beds and 28 ICU beds.

While state lawmakers and local leaders are attempting to address the closures in various ways, there is still a long way to go in minimizing the effect the closures will have on Chippewa Valley residents.

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