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Healthcare continues to grow in importance in local economy

Healthcare continues to grow in importance in local economy Healthcare continues to grow in importance in local economy

The healthcare segment of the Taylor County economy is strong and growing. While the cornerstone of regional healthcare needs and employment remains Aspirus Medford Hospital and Clinics, area residents have multiple other options which compliment the care received at Aspirus.

Aspirus has been providing Taylor County with great health services for over 15 years and are constantly researching to new medicines and techniques as well as always keeping up with new technology.

With that in mind, a lot has changed at Aspirus in the last 10 years.

“One of the things that has changed a lot is our volumes have increased,” said Aspirus CEO Dale Hustedt.

He said that 10 years ago Aspirus’ volumes for outpatient care and inpatient hospitalization was around 100,000 patient visits per year.

Last year, Aspirus saw a 39% increase which brought in 139,000 patient visits.

Hustedt attributes this in large part to the fact that Aspirus has added so many new services in the last 10 years, allowing for them to cater to a wide variety of patients.

“We added a kidney dialysis center, a lot of cardiac services, we added an in house MRI and we’ve opened up two clinics in the last 10 years,” said Hustedt.

The two clinics that have opened in the last 10 years are located in Phillips and Athens and Hustedt stressed that when talking about Aspirus, you are really talking about the Medford campus and all of their “satellite clinics” such as the ones in Phillips and Athens.

“We’ve added chemotherapy and infusion services, we’ve added 3D mammography and we’ve just recently completed a facility project where we added a shortterm rehab unit in our facility,” continued Hustedt.

This rehab facility is for those who may have been cleared to leave the hospital, but are not ready to be on their own.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes in the last 10 years is Hustedt himself. He took over as CEO of Aspirus a little over a year ago and finds himself still learning about the company and community.

Hustedt said that the medical field as a whole has changed a lot in the last 10 years as well.

“Some of the big things are telemedicine and another big advancement is genomics (gene therapy),” stated Hustedt.

He spoke about how genomics allow for doctors to analyze someone’s genes and decipher which medication would work best for that person.

Hustedt said that has been a huge change that has helped a lot of people in the last decade.

“We like to think that we are pretty much a one-stop shop for most things,” said Hustedt when asked about the healthcare that Aspirus provides.

Hustedt admitted that while they do offer almost everything, one thing they struggle with is high level gastroenterology and said that Aspirus would likely refer a patient to somewhere such as Wausau because they do not have a specialist on the Medford campus.

When asked what makes him most proud to be a part of the Aspirus team, Hustedt said, “The people that work here are the whole difference.”

He spoke a lot about how dedicated the team is and the fact that this job is much more than just a paycheck for these employees.

With around 600 employees, Hustedt said that they are all willing to go above and beyond for their patients and their fellow employees.

In the medical field, technology and research is always advancing and Aspirus does everything in their power to keep up.

One of the things they are currently working on is a new CT scanner. They are also working towards renovating the outside of their assisted living home, County Gardens. This building has been around for nearly 20 years so new siding and roofing is becoming necessary.

A new specialty clinic is also coming soon to Aspirus. This will provide enough room for about four out of town specialists to operate and work comfortably.