IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WJMN) – Dickinson County Healthcare (DCH), and Marshfield Clinic Health System have signed a Letter of Intent for DCH hospital and clinics to join Marshfield Clinic. The deal would bring Marshfield Clinic’s world-class health system to the Upper Peninsula and provides DCH with deep resources for the continued expansion of locally-based services, providers and locations.

“This is a game-changer for our local community,” said Chuck Nelson, CEO of Dickinson County Healthcare. “Our momentum at DCH is stronger than ever. Joining Marshfield Clinic helps us expand locally-based access to even higher-quality health care. Together we will add more primary care and specialty providers, widen our scope of services, and improve our care environments across all our locations. As a physician-led organization, Marshfield Clinic is best prepared to help lead the health care discussion in the Upper Peninsula.” 

The partnership will focus on expanding locally-provided outpatient surgeries, supporting DCH’s large pediatric team with Marshfield Children’s Hospital, and growing DCH’s primary care provider team with a powerful provider recruiting network. It will also enhance emergency services provided to the community through Marshfield Clinic’s capability to ensure patients get the highest level of care needed beyond the exceptional services already provided at DCH.

Another key element of the partnership is the construction of a new state-of-the-art Cancer Center, which would bring a full spectrum of oncology services to the region. The center would incorporate already initiated multi-million-dollar capital expenditures for a highly advanced linear accelerator that provides radiation treatment and nuclear medicine technology for diagnostics.

Dr. Susan Turney, CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System, said the new partnership with DCH will transform rural health care in the Iron Mountain region.

“We know how vital access to local, quality care is for rural communities. Many patients across rural America have little or no access to public transit and drive an hour or more for even routine care. In Michigan and Wisconsin, that means long distances on icy winter roads,” Turney said. “Our integrated model allows us to deliver the full continuum of health care and services in small, rural communities. We are excited to extend care for the first time beyond the borders of Wisconsin, and we could not have a better partner in this venture than DCH. Together, we will define the future of rural health care, and create a regional hub for care in the Upper Peninsula.”

“Marshfield Clinic Health System’s leadership and staff are friendly, smart, and engaging,” said Margaret Minerick, board chair of Dickinson County Health System. “Our cultures are aligned, and we could not be more comfortable and confident in our choice to join Marshfield.”

The next step is for the organizations to develop a definitive affiliation agreement, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year. The final closing would occur in 2022. Additional terms of the deal won’t be shared at this time.

Alongside the Marshfield Clinic partnership announcement, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new emergency department and other upgraded features in the facility on Tuesday. The new Emergency Department will include private care rooms with breakaway glass, negative pressure treatment rooms, a respiratory care suite, and two new triage rooms.

“So the emergency room itself, as the patients come into the facility and processed into the individual rooms for the care that they need, it’s much more efficient, much more effective, and much more friendly than the patient experience perspective,” said Nelson. “And specifically around privacy, confidentiality and also being able to isolated patients. We’ve seen with COVID that is a very important issue as we treat patients not only now but into the future.”

There are some final touches being put on the waiting area, but the facility and care access areas are now open to patients.