(Iron Mountain - December 28, 2017) - Dickinson County Healthcare System is reporting record losses for the year, expected to total well over 11 million dollars, far surpassing the two million dollar loss which had been anticipated.

These losses are far greater than can be sustained. Dickinson County Commissioner Joe Stevens (R-Dist 11) said on Tuesday evening, "I think we all know where this is going to end up. It's not a pretty picture."

The current financial condition of the system creates new urgency in getting the negotiations underway which will result in the system being taken over by Bellin Health System.

Officials of the DCHS blame decreases in Medicare and Medicaid payments as the primary reason for the losses, saying that at the current rate of reimbursement, the hospital is losing money on a large percentage of the procedures performed. Further adding to the problem is low rates of reimbursement set by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Adding to the hospital's financial woes has been an ever-increasing loss in out-patient clients to the Bellin Health Clinic which operates on the site of the former Dickinson County Memorial Hospital. Many of those with the financial wherewithal to travel to and from Green Bay have chosen to use the Bellin system, in many cases leaving DCHS to deal with the less fortunate and less able to pay. Bellin claims to have treated more than 13,000 patients at their Woodward Avenue clinic this year.

The Board of Directors of DCHS and the County Board of Commissioners have entered into an initial agreement with Bellin, which will allow for negotiations for an eventual take-over of the system by the Green Bay based health system. While formal negotiations have not yet begun, the transfer of assets is expected to take place in mid-2018.

The transfer of assets cannot take place without the approval of the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners. County Controller Brian Bousley has been assigned the duty of negotiating on behalf of the County. Those negotiations are expected to begin very early in the new year.

Bellin claims that it will improve services at the local facility, including new capital investments. There has been no clear explanation given as to how that can be accomplished without major increases in charges for services.

While the new entity is expected to include a local board of some type, it's role will likely be advisory only, as Bellin is a private non-profit organization, answerable only to it's own board of directors.