OnFocus with the CEO of Gundersen Health System

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Marshfield Clinic Health System and Gundersen Health Systems announced Tuesday they will discuss a potential merger over the next few months.

Many details are still up in the air as the two health systems work out an agreement that would ultimately see a system of 13 hospitals, over 100 clinics, 18,000 employees, with 2 million patients. The service area would cover three states and 50 counties in Wisconsin.

“Gundersen has been looking at the state of the industry…and trends across the country and really wondering how we’re going to continue to be viable and strong into the more distant future,” said Gundersen CEO Dr. Scott Rathgaber.

He stated that Gundersen Health Systems is doing well but in conversations with health partners, Marshfield Clinic Health System shared similar concerns. The two systems see each other as compatible partners, both with an over century-long history in rural healthcare without many overlapping jurisdictions. A priority in the merger will be to bring costs down for patients while maintain quality of care.

A name change has not yet been discussed, said Rathgaber.

Small communities will continue to be served at their locations. “Communities need to know we remain steadfastly committed to providing care in those communities just as we have for many years,” he said.

It’s uncertain how the Marshfield Clinic contracted helicopter transport service, Life Link III, or its insurance service Security Health Plan would be affected by the merger since Gundersen has its own services.

Discussions will continue the next few months and no layoffs are planned in the meantime.