Court Action to Protect Continued Access to Critical Care for Patients and Families
To protect the community’s ongoing local access to Level II Trauma and Comprehensive Stroke care provided at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, ThedaCare filed for a temporary injunction in Outagamie County Circuit Court against Ascension Wisconsin. ThedaCare’s action asks the Court to provide time for ThedaCare to replace the majority of its 11-member interventional radiology and cardiovascular team of nurses and technicians who were recruited by and have accepted employment offers at Ascension NE Wisconsin.
“We understand and respect that people have choices in the current highly competitive job market,” said Imran Andrabi, MD, ThedaCare President and CEO. “The decision by Ascension Wisconsin to hire away such a significant portion of ThedaCare’s interventional radiology specialty support team all at once, and at the height of a pandemic surge, will disrupt access to critical care for the people in our region. While we have tried to work with Ascension Wisconsin for additional time to execute a plan for staffing coverage that will provide the long-term continuation of services that support trauma, stroke and other essential areas of care, Ascension Wisconsin was unwilling to collaborate with us. We are essentially asking the Court to grant the injunction to maintain the status quo until ThedaCare can hire replacement staff for this vital department in order to protect access to the critical care services supported by the team, which are considered community assets.”
The action taken by Ascension Wisconsin puts at risk the many communities and patients served by ThedaCare’s robust critical care services. Specifically, the hiring away of these employees en masse would impede the ability to provide care to trauma victims at ThedaCare’s Level II Trauma Center and would potentially force the diversion of trauma victims from a 17-plus county area to Madison, Milwaukee or Green Bay. Diverting trauma patients is potentially catastrophic when minutes can be the difference between life or death, particularly as Wisconsin hospitals are operationally challenged dealing with a surge from the Omicron variant.
Additionally, the staff who were recruited and hired by Ascension Wisconsin play a vital role in ThedaCare’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. As a result of Ascension Wisconsin’s action, ThedaCare may not be able to staff 24/7 interventional care, which is needed for patients who come to ThedaCare for the highest level of stroke care, as indicated by its Comprehensive Stroke Center Accreditation. As such, stroke victims may have to be diverted to Green Bay or potentially as far as Madison or Milwaukee. Again, these diversions, most of which would be longer than one hour, will undoubtedly have the potential to endanger lives.
“There is no equal level of care in the Fox Valley Region like the care provided by ThedaCare at its Level II Trauma Center,” said Dr. Ray Georgen, ThedaCare System Trauma Medical Director. “We want to continue protecting the community and avoid transferring patients in need of these critical care services out of our area. When minutes count, it is vital to have local access to acute interventional treatments for the best possible outcomes.”
Dr. Andrabi added that Ascension Wisconsin’s actions are particularly disappointing and surprising given the past collaboration between the organizations, the widely known national and statewide current challenges of staff recruitment, and the fact that Wisconsin and the Fox Valley are experiencing a significant COVID-19 surge that is making bed capacity limited or non-existent across the state. Additionally, there are limited options for medical transport and ambulances as COVID-19 spreads and impacts these emergency providers and caregivers.
“ThedaCare’s commitment to providing patients access to exceptional, high-quality care is unwavering,” said Dr. Andrabi. “We will continue to advocate on our community’s behalf to ensure patients receive the care they expect and deserve while leaving no stone unturned to execute a plan that keeps in place access to high-quality, safe care close to home.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, find solutions, and encourage health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.