Regional cancer center is planned for Iron Mountain

IRON MOUNTAIN — Marshfield Clinic Health System will break ground in May on a new cancer care center in Iron Mountain at an estimated cost of $10.6 million, Dickinson County Board learned Monday.

Amanda Shelast, president of Marshfield Medical Center-Dickinson, said the facility should be completed by the fall of 2024. Plans are in place to expand research and clinical trials as well, she said.

Meanwhile, Margaret Minerick of the MCHS Hospitals Inc. Board said recent layoffs announced by Marshfield affected only its Wisconsin network. “There has been no reduction in services here,” she said.

Minerick serves on an advisory panel that is responsible for monitoring the performance of MMC-D along with helping to develop strategic plans. She formerly chaired the Dickinson County Healthcare System Board.

The county hospital joined MCHS in February 2022, with Marshfield promising to deliver $26 million in capital investments over a five-year period, including construction of a regional cancer center.

Although Dickinson operations are now run by Marshfield, input and oversight is provided by the advisory board. MCHS also took responsibility for Dickinson’s pension funding and committed to retaining core services and medical practices for at least 10 years. For the first three years, any staff reductions are subject to approval by the advisory panel.

Despite financial challenges in the health care industry, MMC-D is operating in the black, Minerick said.

Earlier this month, MCHS said it was laying off 346 employees — almost 3% of its staff — and leaving 500 vacant jobs unfilled. The health care provider cited increased labor costs, high supply expenses and reductions in reimbursements.

The layoffs came amid merger talks with Minnesota-based Essentia Health, which Minerick said should have only a positive impact on Iron Mountain if they come to fruition.

Shelast, formerly vice president of physician services and clinical networks at MMC-D, succeeded Chuck Nelson, who was promoted to chief business and strategy officer of MCHS in early December. Shelast served as interim president before being named president a month ago.

As plans for a cancer center go forward, a capital fundraising campaign will be launched, she told the county board. “This is such a great story for our community,” she said.

The Boldt Co. of Appleton, Wis., will serve as construction manager for the 12,000-square-foot addition, using local contractors as much as possible, she said.

Construction costs have risen substantially since the project was first envisioned, Shelast said.


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