(Iron Mountain - December 17, 2017) - Over the past several months,
since the announcement of the pending sale of DCHS to Bellin Health, we have
questioned a number of people regarding their health care experiences. We only
questioned those who brought the issue up themselves.
virtually everyone had high praise for inpatient care at Dickinson County
Memorial. Conversely, virtually no one had anything good to say about the DCHS
emergency department, which is often the first contact that people have with the
The primary complaints dealt with three issues: Unreasonably
long waits, lack of compassion, and accusatory comments regarding the fact that
they were even there.
Several of the individuals we spoke with said they
went to the emergency department late at night or early in the morning, when
there was apparently no one else there. They made this judgment based on the
fact that there were half a dozen or more staff sitting around behind the desk
gossiping and laughing. Yet, some were kept waiting for more than an hour before
anyone paid any attention to them.
The complaints about lack of
compassion were almost universal, as were the comments about being made to feel
like a “criminal.”
It is not that the DCHS Board of Directors can claim
ignorance regarding the emergency department complaints. A number of the most ardent complainers said that they
had written letters or emails to the hospital, but had received no response,
other than several who said that they had received an acknowledgement that their
letter had been received, but nothing beyond that.
While some were
indifferent about having to possibly use the DCHS emergency department in the
future, others said that they would rather die than go there again, or that the
only way they'd go there again would be if they were carried in.
said that they have had issues for which they would have liked to have gone to
the emergency department, but instead waited until morning when they could go to
the local Bellin Clinic, rather than use the DCHS emergency department.
What this appears to have done is create two classes of patients: The Medicaid
and Medicare patients who may not have the means to travel to and from Green
Bay, and those with the financial and family support that allows them to easily
travel to and from Green Bay.
Several said that they did not want to be
hospitalized in Green Bay only because their friends and family did not have the
means to visit them there and that they feared being left alone.
expressed fear about the future of their health care as they do not have
personal means of traveling to and from Green Bay. Ambulance services either by
air or on the road can cost thousands of dollars, and much of this cost is not
covered by insurances, or by Medicare or Medicaid.
The obvious result of
these attitudes has been that DCHS has been left with a disproportionate
percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients, with dwindling funding for those
programs. This has been stated as the primary reasons for this action.
Bellin will immediately have an advantage over
DCHS in that the organization as a whole has a much larger and more diversified
The question remains as to whether their intention is to
actually invest funds at the local hospital, or just turn it into a transfer
station, moving the inpatient load to Green Bay. If the latter occurs, everyone
who uses the hospital will incur additional transportation costs which are
seldom covered by insurance. We hear much about the "upgrade" to the electronic
medical records department. The fact is, DCHS already has an up-to-date very
extensive medical records department. The changes that Bellin will make to that
system will not be to bring it up-to-date or modernize it, but only to make it
compatible with their own system, which utilizes different software.
While Bellin claims that local staff and local services will be kept in place,
there is no way that this can be guaranteed, even in the short term. Once the
transfer takes place, neither the citizens of Dickinson County or the Board of
Commissioners will have any control over their actions.
The “die is
cast;” there is virtually no way of turning back at this point, due to the
financial condition that DCHS finds itself in. The jury remains out as to
whether the people of Dickinson County will come out as winners or losers.
It would almost appear that the DCHS Board of directors had this outcome in
mind. Either that, or they have been totally out of touch with the public they
are supposed to be serving.
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