Wisconsin-based Bellin and Gundersen health systems to merge

Photo: John Fedele/Getty Images

Bellin Health and Gundersen Health System, both based in Wisconsin, have announced plans to combine operations effective December 1.

This is a fusion of equals, the health systems said, being done to strengthen local healthcare and the patient experience in their respective communities.

Bellin and Gundersen have been in talks and announced on June 1 that they were discussing a planned merger. They anticipate closing on November 30 and starting operations on December 1.


Partnerships and mergers are methods health systems have been using to gain financial strength and stability and usher in strategic innovation as hospitals face labor shortages, inflation, rising costs and other pressures.

Bellin and Gundersen will keep their respective headquarters in Green Bay and La Crosse, and said they would have a balanced leadership structure that places each of the top two positions (CEO and Chairman of the Board) in different regions to ensure takeover. shared decision-making and equitable representation.

Dr. Scott Rathgaber, Gundersen’s current CEO, is the incoming CEO of the merged organizations.

Bellin’s current CEO, Chris Woleske, will serve as system executive vice president and regional president of the Bellin region.

Heather Schimmers, currently Gundersen’s Director of Nursing and Chief Operating Officer, will serve as Regional President for the Gundersen region. In addition, John Dykema, current Chairman of the Bellin Health Board of Directors, will serve as Chairman of the newly created Board, with residence in Northeast Wisconsin.


Representatives from Bellin and Gundersen have been meeting for the past several months to plan the integration of the two systems. Over time, the systems said they intend to give patients access to more resources and a broader network, including world-class clinical services, shared provider expertise, cutting-edge technology and digital healthcare tools that provide choice. of virtual attention to homes. and workplaces.

Bellin Health is an integrated health care delivery system headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, featuring Bellin Hospital, Bellin Psychiatric Center, 29 Bellin Health primary and specialty care medical clinics, and retail health clinics known as Bellin Health FastCare . Bellin operates Bellin Health Oconto Hospital, an acute care access hospital in Oconto, Wis., Bellin Fitness, Bellin Health Home Care Equipment, and Bellin College.

Gundersen Health System is a physician-led, not-for-profit, integrated health care network headquartered in La Crosse, Wisconsin, serving 22 counties in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, and northeastern Iowa.


“Our health systems have been successfully fulfilling our individual missions, but we know we will thrive and better serve our patients and communities by finding partners with shared missions and strategic visions,” Rathgaber said. . “This merger provides transformative opportunities to expand our patient-centered care and community-oriented work. Together, we can invest resources wisely and efficiently to improve health and well-being in our communities, especially for people who are underserved and, in general, for all those who are in our care.

“The most important message we want to share with everyone is this: the people you know and the care and locations you trust will not change. Together we will enable Bellin and Gundersen to better serve our patients and communities while preserving and improving a legacy of local, personalized care that will endure for decades to come,” Woleske said. “We have found a true partner in Gundersen and we know that together we will be stronger.”

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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