Orthopedic group sues to keep Wisconsin hospitals open

A Wisconsin orthopedic practice is suing to keep two Hospital Sisters Health System-owned hospitals open at least three months past their planned closure date. 

Springfield, Ill.-based HSHS announced Jan. 22 that it would close its Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls. The hospitals are planned to close by April 21. 

Altoona, Wis.-based Chippewa Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is seeking an injunction to keep the hospital open until at least July 21, according to a news release from the practice shared with Becker's. 

The practice said its contract with HSHS requires an 180-day notice to terminate its relationship and that no such notice was given. 

Since HSHS' announcement, CVOSM alleges it and other physicians in the region have been "forced to cancel previously scheduled surgeries, lab studies and diagnostic imaging studies for patients at Sacred Heart despite a clearly communicated continued need for these healthcare services."

"Since HSHS announced it is exiting Western Wisconsin, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals have been on an accelerated path to systematically shut down services and programs and remove critical, community-funded medical equipment and resources far in advance of the announced April 21st closure date," Austin Crow, MD, CVOSM's group president, said in the release. "These abrupt, premature closure actions interfere with CVSOM’s, and hundreds of other area physicians’, ability to serve patients today and creates irreparable harm for patients across the region now and for the foreseeable future."

Dr. Crow said additional time is necessary to protect patients' health now and develop a plan to continue providing healthcare to patients in the future. 

An HSHS spokesperson told Becker's the system does not publicly discuss pending litigation.

The complaint was filed in Eau Claire County (Wis.) Court. HSHS has 20 days to respond, according to the summons. 

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