New hospital construction work underway at Highway 10 location
Construction of the new Marshfield Medical Center (MMC) hospital west of Neillsville is already underway and on schedule according to representatives of the hospital speaking at a public forum at the Neillsville Legion Hall on Nov. 18. If progress continues as expected, they expect to have the hospital’s first patients in April 2021.
Members of the Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS), which included former Memorial Medical Center president Ryan Neville, MCHS Foundation chief philanthropy officer Teri Wilczek, MCHS chief of staff Melissa Breen, Marty Anderson of Security Health Plan, and construction consultant Kirk Dunlap, participated in the meeting with about 50 residents from the area.
According to Neville, the new hospital operated under the MCHS umbrella will be 100,000 square feet, and located across the Black River on the far side of Neillsville at the intersection of Highway 10 and River Avenue. The new hospital will cost $45 million to build and will have numerous capabilities that Neillsville’s current hospital doesn’t have.
In total, Neville said the hospital will have 29 exam rooms, 16 in-patient beds, two operating rooms, a helipad, public eatery, spaces for Sniteman Pharmacy and Art of Optometry to work in, a wellness center, a skilled nursing facility and an infusion center. The building’s physical capabilities will allow new services to come to the hospital, including more than 30 specialty services, an acute and same-day surgery program, a radiology platform, a level three trauma program, tele-health, and chemotherapy — a first for Clark County.
“We will have the first chemotherapy center in Clark County with the infusion center,” he said. “What’s really nice about the setting is the setting of country, a lot of grass. We’re bringing the country into the building.”
Work at the hospital site began a short time ago, and a lot of progress has been made in that short amount of time. Dunlap said the building is being constructed in sections to set up the area for construction through the winter months. Footings have been placed in the ground and steel bars are beginning to form a skeletal structure that will be covered with plastic once complete. Some areas of the hospital, such as the ambulance bay and some of the hospital wings, already have most of this work done.
“The building is being constructed in sections. The steel is up, the entire building with roof and the decking will be finished in February,” he said. “That will allow the constructor to drop heavy plastic on it and work on the interior. By February 2021 we expect to see substantial finish. We’re on schedule, it’s an active site.”
There will also be work done in the near future to extend sewer, natural gas and fiber optic lines underneath the Black River to the hospital. Neville said as they are looking forward and expect other people may have an interest in locating across the river in the future, they are running the three lines to the corner of River Avenue and Highway 10 to allow other establishments to hook up.
“We’re putting in sewer, natural gas and fiber optics and will take them to the corner of River road to allow anyone developing across the river in the future something easy to hook up to,” he said.
Once the members of MCHS completed their presentation, the forum was opened to questions from the audience. Some of the questions asked were about the capabilities of the hospital’s new services, including the infusion center and tele-health. In their responses, the MCHS members said the new services will be able to help a lot of health-related issues people have without requiring them to travel to another hospital. The only exemption to the rule was with OB/ GYN services, which would require trips to Marshfield.
“To have an OB on call 365 days per year, it’s not feasible,” said Neville. “In 2014, we had 29 births in the entire year. One third of Clark County residents now have their babies at home. We’ll have prenatal visits here, but they will have to go to Marshfield for the early checkups and delivery.”
Residents also wondered about the wellness center, which will be operated by YMCA. Costing an additional $1.5 million to build along with the infusion center, Wilczek said the center will be open to any YMCA member to use and will give anyone purchasing a membership at the center the ability to visit other YMCA facilities across the U.S.
“None of them (the other MCHS hospitals) have a wellness center, it’s unique. We saw that the Neillsville community was very vocal about it, they wanted it in the community. It was a unique opportunity,” she said. “It operates 24/7. When you purchase a membership with the YMCA, they get a key fob that allows access to the wellness center part of the building and they can come in whenever they want.” There was also a concern about the effect the new hospital could have on local real estate taxes, especially with the old hospital standing empty. Neville said he has spoken with the Neillsville mayor and has been assured that taxes would not be affected by the hospital. As for the old building, he said they have been speaking with people about the possibility of turning the building into an apartment complex. “We’re not hitting any tax walls, we talked to the mayor and we’re tax exempt,” he said. “We’re hoping to re-purpose the (old hospital) building. We have someone who wants to make 20 to 30 apartments in it. When we looked at the facility, was saw that one of the biggest needs was housing, our employees have no housing locally, they have to drive.”
A detailed floor plan of the new $45 million hospital being built was released at the community forum on Nov. 18. It includes the location of the Wellness Center (left side of photo) and the Infusion Center (bottom of photo) which will cost an additional $1.5 million to build. Both the Wellness and Infusion Centers are part of a package of new services the Marshfield Medical Center hopes to offer once the new location is opened.
The new Marshfield Medical Center hospital is being built at the corner of Highway 10 and River Avenue west of Neillsville. The base of the hospital has been laid and several structures have been raised since work began in September. Construction will continue through the next year at the site and is expected to be open to its first patients in April 2021.
CHEYENNE THOMAS/STAFF PHOTO