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Big changes in Upper Peninsula healthcare industry point to job growth and greater access to world-class care

Advanced specialty services now available locally through new partnerships

UPPER PENINSULA, MI (March 31, 2022)  High-quality, local healthcare is a key component of thriving communities. Patients across the Upper Peninsula have traditionally had access to attentive, compassionate care yet sometimes have had to travel to seek advanced specialty care. Exciting new partnerships and expansions in four area cities are expected to change the face of healthcare in the U.P., adding jobs, increasing local healthcare spending, and bringing more advanced care closer to home.

Within the past year, healthcare access in the Upper Peninsula has begun rapidly expanding.  Dickinson County Healthcare System in Iron Mountain and War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie have both joined larger healthcare systems. Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique has expanded its facility, and Aspirus Health is finalizing plans for a new facility in Ontonagon. As a result of these projects, people in the U.P. will have more access to convenient, high-quality healthcare.

“These projects will have a major positive economic impact on our region and enhance our quality of living,” said InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante. “It’s no secret that rural healthcare is vulnerable. According to recent findings from The Chartis Center for Rural Health, at least 135 rural hospitals across the U.S. have closed since 2010, and more than 400 others are in danger of closing. These expansions will have a stabilizing influence on local jobs, local economies, and the health of the people who live in and around these communities.”

The U.P. first experienced the impact of such mergers more than a decade ago, when larger networks like UP Health and Aspirus acquired smaller local hospital systems. Both hospital networks have since infused millions of dollars into the region and expanded healthcare access to local communities.

Dickinson County Healthcare recently joined Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) to become Marshfield Medical Center – Dickinson. Chuck Nelson, CEO of Marshfield Medical Center – Dickinson said, ” Our excellent local delivery of care across a wide-range of services has been expanded and strengthened by our affiliation with Marshfield. We are investing in every health care offering in our core service area and expanding regional access to state-of-the-art programs locally in cancer care, heart care, pediatrics, orthopedics, and more. We are excited to serve as a regional hub for quality healthcare.”  

Effective on January 1, 2022, War Memorial Hospital (WMH) in Sault Ste. Marie became the eighth medical center in the MyMichigan Health system. David Jahn, President and CEO of WMH says the agreement will increase the number of local service lines and provide financial stability. “Although our last two years were some of highest performing, running an independent rural hospital is a challenge. This agreement will allow us to provide higher end care right here. Before, if someone needed a cardiac catheterization, they would have to go to Petoskey, Traverse City, or as far away as Marquette.” MyMichigan will invest more than $60 million in capital improvements over the next five to ten years. The agreement also stipulates that no employee will lose their job or benefits for the first five years.

Campus expansions are also having an impact. Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique is preparing to wrap up Phase Two of a $12.8 million expansion project that was launched in May of 2021. The project includes a place for rehabilitation services, an aquatic therapy pool, new ambulatory care infusion suites, and a 12,555 square-foot administration building located on the campus’s east end. The rehabilitation/infusion facility was opened to the public on February 21 and the clinic opened on February 22. Administration move-in is currently scheduled for April 1. The project will streamline care by bringing the medical team and services together under one roof. The rehab center was previously two miles from the hospital; now it has its own wing. The expansion project will also allow SCMH to add new providers and offer more services, helping to keep healthcare local.

The latest project for Aspirus Health is the construction of a new $15.8 million hospital in Ontonagon. Construction is expected to begin in the coming months. The new Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital will offer a number of services under one roof, including family medicine, specialty care, outpatient therapies, diagnostic imaging, laboratory services and more. Having multiple services in one location is expected to provide patients of all ages with more efficient access to complete health care. The state-of-the-art facility will incorporate patient-centered design features, starting with easy-access parking and centralized registration. The current hospital will remain open and continue to provide care to the community during the construction of the new facility.

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the nation and has more job demand than any other industry in the U.P. As the Upper Peninsula’s population ages and more healthcare networks grow, local demand will only increase. “U.P. students considering a career path would do well to focus on health professions,” said Fittante. “As the number and variety of local medical services continue to increase, and more residents take advantage of healthcare close to home, the potential is there for a very solid future job market.”


About Marshfield Medical Center – Dickinson
Marshfield Medical Center – Dickinson is a member of Marshfield Clinic Health System, an integrated health system whose mission is to enrich lives through accessible, affordable compassionate health care. The Health System serves Wisconsin with more than 1,400 providers comprising 170 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. Marshfield Medical Center -Dickinson Hospital is a 49-bed, general medical and surgical hospital in Iron Mountain, Michigan. The hospital serves communities in Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

About MyMichigan Medical Center Sault
MyMichigan Medical Center Sault is a 49-bed hospital with 51 long-term care beds and 20 psych beds. The Medical Center employs more than 900 people and serves the Eastern Upper Peninsula by providing complete medical care including diagnostic services, emergency services, urgent care, orthopedics, rehabilitation, obstetrics, family medicine, and many specialty services. MyMichigan Medical Center Sault has a long-term care facility attached to the main campus of the hospital and a standalone Behavioral Health Center in nearby Kincheloe, Michigan. MyMichigan Medical Center Sault also has many outpatient offices across the Eastern Upper Peninsula including lab, primary care, and rehabilitation services.

About Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital
Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital is an independent state-of-the-art, 12-bed, critical access hospital which has been in operation since 1950. In 2013, the hospital moved to US Highway 2. In 2016, it was announced the Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital was named in the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the Nation as a top performer in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, and operating at a lower cost than their peers

About Aspirus
Aspirus is a non-profit, community-directed health system based in Wausau, Wisconsin. Its 11,000 employees are focused on improving the health and well-being of people throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Aspirus serves communities through four hospitals in Upper Michigan and 17 hospitals in Wisconsin, 75 clinics, home health and hospice care, pharmacies, critical care and air-medical transport, medical goods, nursing homes and a broad network of physicians.

About InvestUP
InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula.

As a part of our commitment to the Upper Peninsula, we collaborate with partners to share some of the most compelling stories about business and job growth across the region. Our goal through these stories is to get at the heart of what makes the U.P. unique — and to ensure these stories travel beyond our peninsula and broadly illustrate why the UP is the place to live and work.

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