Northstar, Bellin Health partner to improve services

03/07/2011

IRON RIVER – Northstar Health System and Bellin Health have established a partnership with the goal of improving health services for the residents of the Northstar service area.

This announcement follows a deliberate, year-long process in which Northstar’s administration and board of directors evaluated the health system’s options to expand its services by partnering with other health care entities. Northstar officials determined Bellin was the best option.

Under the partnership, Bellin will provide strategic guidance and resources related to primary preventative medicine, community health initiatives and electronic medical record technology. This will include providing improved access to services and physicians in primary and specialty areas that are currently underserved in the area.

“Our focus is providing cost-effective, quality health care services to the individuals and families in our region,” said Bruce Rampage, president and CEO of Northstar. “Through this partnership, we can improve and expand services to our patients while maintaining our strong local focus. This is a tremendous benefit to our community.”

Northstar has made a concerted effort to enhance health services to the surrounding area, building a new hospital in 2009, and continually adding and upgrading technology such as a 64-slice CT scanner. The critical access hospital offers a 24/7 emergency department, surgical services and inpatient care, along with a large array of health care services.

“As stewards of the community, we are committed to providing a level of care that meets the current and future needs of our residents,” said Mark Tousignant, chairman of the Northstar Board of Directors. “As such, we carefully weigh the effects of each of our decisions. This partnership is a significant step in our journey to advance health care in this area.”

Like other health systems in similar-sized communities, it is not cost effective for Northstar – and local health care consumers – to staff a full spectrum of specialists. Therefore, Northstar forms strategic partnerships to better meet local needs.  

In Bellin Health, Northstar finds a partner with a strong reputation for keeping care local and advancing population health, while providing high-quality specialty and advanced care when needed. The health system has a network of 29 primary healthcare clinics, including locations in Iron Mountain, Norway, Kingsford and Escanaba, along with more than 200 specialty physician partners.

“We believe that the people in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should be the healthiest in the nation,” said George Kerwin, president and CEO of Bellin Health. “That is best accomplished by providing residents with local-based resources and services, and access to exceptional advanced and specialty care within the region when needed.”

The two health systems said the details and opportunities within the relationship are still being explored and initiatives will be announced when determined.

“Health care is a personal choice. The addition of this partnership to the existing relationships we have with other health care providers means our residents have more choices to meet their needs,” said Rampage.

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About NORTHSTAR
Northstar Health System, www.northstarhs.org, operates a critical access hospital in Iron River, Mich., and provides general medical and surgical care for inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room patients, with access to emergency room services available 24-hours per day, 7-days per week. In 1996, Iron County General Hospital and Crystal Falls Community Hospital, were merged into Iron County Community Hospital. In subsequent years, the hospital acquired the county ambulance service, opened physician clinics, and remodeled and updated the main hospital campus. To better reflect the health system’s growth and sense of community, the entities were renamed under the name Northstar Health System in 2009.

About Bellin Health
Bellin Health, www.bellin.org, is an integrated health care delivery system based in Green Bay, Wis. It has served people in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1908. It is comprised of Bellin Hospital, Bellin Psychiatric Center, 29 Bellin Health Family Medical Center primary care physician clinics, and several retail health clinics known as Bellin Health FastCare. Bellin also operates Bellin Health Partners, a physician-hospital organization with more than 208 specialty physician members, the Oconto Hospital & Medical Center, a critical care access hospital in Oconto, Bellin Fitness Center with four locations, and Bellin College. With its 3,080 employees, Bellin Health is known for its emphasis on preventive health care and is the region’s leader in cardiac, orthopedics, sports medicine, digestive health, mental health, and primary care medicine.