Care CEO Susan Edwards in her office on Tuesday.
CITY OF PEWAUKEE - When ProHealth Care CEO
Susan Edwards glances at the cancer center under
construction across the road from the organization’s
headquarters, she envisions what the future will hold - a
place where residents can get the best care possible from
three partnered health care organizations in a state-of-the
art facility built with the patient in mind.
On May 7, ProHealth Care announced its
collaboration with Aurora Health Care and UW Health to
co-manage ProHealth Care’s new cancer center in the City
of Pewaukee. Aurora Health Care will have several
cancer specialists delivering care at the new center. UW
Health with its Carbone Cancer Center, the only
federally designated comprehensive cancer center in the
state, will provide medical direction for treating all
cancer patients at the center.
Forming a partnership
Edwards said discussions began in the
winter between the three health care organizations,
which are all members of AboutHealth, a statewide health
care organization developed to enhance clinical quality,
increase efficiency and improve customer experiences
through shared practices.
“It was very easy and very
straightforward because we all want high-quality,
value-based health care and with UW’s expertise as a
(National Cancer Institute) Designated Cancer Center and
Aurora with this very long history of delivering great
cancer care at probably 20 locations in the state, it
was an ideal partnership for us,” Edwards said.
dining area takes shape at the new ProHealth Care cancer center
and clinic on Tuesday.
The opening date for the cancer center is
Aug. 10 and a community open house will be held July 18.
The three organizations agreed there was
an opportunity to bring more services to the community
and will all take a very active approach in the center,
she said. Aurora and UW-Health also had some input on
the interior design of the cancer center.
“Within the network, we are very focused
on the ability to share information, share practices and
actually see them implanted,” Edwards said, giving the
cancer care center as an example.
A large bore
MRI machine is already in place and being tested at the the
ProHealth Care cancer center and clinic in the City of Pewaukee.
Ceiling tiles above the patient’s head form a mural of a forest.
Health care networks are a good foundation
for creating more partnerships and accelerating the pace of
improvements, Edwards said.
As part of a network, Edwards said
ProHealth Care and other health care organizations can
discuss their successes so others can learn quickly and
each organization brings something important to the
While Edwards agrees there have been more
health care organizations joining networks after the
implementation of the Affordable Care Act - commonly
called Obamacare - she doesn’t see them as necessarily
characters are used in murals in pediatric treatment rooms in
the clinic area of the new ProHealth Care cancer center and
clinic in the City of Pewaukee.
“I think even before the Affordable Care Act,
we all cared about quality and delivering quality care in
the very best way possible,” she said.
One way that ProHealth Care plans to
deliver quality care is through its new cancer center.
“I think one of the outstanding efforts
that was made here in development of the plans for the
cancer center was working with a Patient Advisory
Council - patients who had the experience of going
through cancer either in the past or currently,” Edwards
said. Those patients shared what had worked and what
hadn’t with ProHealth Care staff.
Remaining local, independent
While ProHealth Care has committed to
staying local and independent, Edwards understands the
struggles that some other organizations are going
through. Last week, Watertown Regional Medical Center
announced it had signed an agreement with for-profit
LifePoint Health for a joint venture to share ownership
and operation of the hospital. As a result, LifePoint
will own 80 percent of the joint venture, while WRMC and
the community will retain a 20 percent ownership stake.
It will also become a taxpaying organization.
murals cover the walls of a pediatric treatment room in the
clinic area of the ProHealth Care cancer center and clinic in
the City of Pewaukee.
“It’s not surprising when you recognize that
organizations across the country are seeing the pressures of
reimbursement and looking for ways to stay independent and
viable to their respective communities. Different boards are
deciding different things. Our board has made the decision
that we are going to be independent and freestanding and we
know what we need to do to be able to do that for this
community,” Edwards said.
ProHealth Care remains strong financially
and has a strategic plan it continues to follow that
identified partnerships as a key element to success.
effects of Obamacare
While managing reimbursements for
services remains a difficult task for health care
organizations, Edwards recognizes the benefits of the
ACA, saying that in general it has allowed people to
have access to insurance exchanges and provided more
opportunities for people to seek health care.
“I think the ACA is really geared at
changing the way health care is delivered and in that it
really focuses on prevention and wellness as opposed to
just treating people in an episodic way. I have to
believe that’s a good thing across the board,” she said.
Edwards is keeping an eye on what happens
at the national level with the upcoming presidential
race, as well as what the outcome will be for the
Supreme Court case of King vs. Burwell. The case argues
that the ACA denies tax subsidies for about 7 million
Americans who live in states that use the federal
HealthCare.gov marketplace rather than setting up their
own exchange, such as Wisconsin.
What Edwards would like to see from
national leaders is a focus on health and preventative
“Yes, we can improve what we do on a
continual basis, but at some point reimbursements really
do need to be at least at a level that keeps an
organization sustainable and their communities, because
when an organization is no longer sustainable you either
partner, like Watertown did as an example, or you lose
your ability to keep your doors open. Adequate
reimbursement is on everyone’s list of concerns,” she