Bellin Health, Gundersen Health System complete $2.4 billion merger

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 28, 2022
Business Affairs
Bellin Health and Gundersen Health System will merge into a $2.4 billion healthcare system. (Picture of Gundersen Health System, courtesy of Gundersen Health System)
Bellin Health and Gundersen Health System will officially merge on November 30 and begin operating as a combined $2.4 billion healthcare system on December 1.

The two announced their intent to merge in June, and together will operate 11 hospitals and more than 100 clinics, staffed by more than 14,000 employees and serving western and northeast Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, southeast Minnesota, and northeast Iowa, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

The merger is not due to a need need to scale up or save on operating costs, but because both organizations can do "better together," Gundersen CEO Dr. Scott Rathgaber, told The Green Bay Press Gazette.

Bellin CEO Chris Woleske says no staff members will be laid off, even as the two combine finance, supply chain, information technology and legal operations. “One area we will look to really bring together is our IT and digital staff. We plan to grow in our use of technology and our needs in that space."

Additionally, the deal does not negate existing partnerships and service agreements that either has with other health organizations and service providers.

Instead, it expands their resources and creates a broader network that includes top-tier clinical services, shared provider expertise, state-of-the-art technology and digital tools for virtual care options at home and in the workplace, said both CEOs.

Gundersen will be able to work with nursing, medical imaging, surgical assistance and physical therapy program graduates from Bellin College and have access to Bellin’s home healthcare program. Bellin will have access to Gundersen’s residency program and will benefit from its sustainability practices.

The unified systems will maintain headquarters in Green Bay (Bellin) and La Crosse (Gundersen). Rathgaber will be the CEO, while Woleske will become system executive vice president and regional president of the Bellin region.

John Dykema, current chair of the Bellin Health Board of Directors, will serve as the board chair, and Heather Schimmers, current chief nursing officer and chief operating officer for Gundersen, will serve as regional president of the Gundersen region.

Due to the recognition of each healthcare system, the two plan to retain their respective names for now but told the Green Bay Press Gazette that they will likely take on a new one in the future.

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