HSHS Healthcare System Shuts Down In Rural Wisconsin: What It Means For Rural Health Care

Interview with HSHS CEO discusses closures of HSHS and Prevea locations

Damond Boatwright, CEO of HSHS, recently spoke to Catholic Health World’s Julie Minda about the closing of HSHS and Prevea locations in western Wisconsin and what it means for rural health care. WEAU has requested to speak with Boatwright and is waiting for a response. In the interview, Boatwright discusses how vulnerable populations, Medicaid and Medicare might have factored into the health care dynamics of the region, saying that “more than 60%” of those populations used HSHS hospitals. He also cites things the organization tried to do to change its situation before deciding on the closure, including trying to create its own insurance company.

Boatwright explains that HSHS tried to identify potential Catholic systems to partner with, offering them right of first refusal. When none of them were interested or able to, the health system tried to reach an agreement with a potential non-Catholic partner–but couldn’t. According to Minda’s interview with Boatwright, the reaction of impacted communities mirrored the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining and eventually acceptance. When asked about how HSHS left the area, Boatwright says that many other organizations in similar circumstances that are not Catholic would have just left the market. However, he notes that HSHS reached out to other health care providers to collaborate on the transition of its patients and early on reached out to elected officials. He believes that other organizations may have just cut and run without any regard for the collateral damage caused by this decision but HSHS wanted to continue leading with their values even though people may not have been ready for it.

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