Bellin Health, Gundersen discuss merger

Two not-for-profits finalizing new community health-focused system

Bellin Health and Gundersen Health System are discussing how they can come together to strengthen the personal, local medical care and experience for which they are renowned in their respective communities. The health systems are deep into discussions of a planned merger, with a final agreement expected to be complete in the coming weeks, followed by required regulatory review. After the planned merger, the health systems will offer access to more resources and a broader network of services that will improve care for the patients and families they serve.

Gundersen and Bellin Health are two of the Upper Midwest’s most respected health systems, each having served patients in their respective parts of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, southeastern Minnesota, and northeast Iowa for well over 100 years. Coming together would provide patients and communities access to top-tier care at 11 hospitals and more than 100 local clinic locations, ensuring the continued strength of robust local healthcare that helps patients and communities flourish.

“As health systems, our missions, visions and values complement each other, and the people and communities we serve are at the core of the care and service we provide,” said Bellin Health President & CEO Chris Woleske. “Joining together would allow us to maintain and enhance the top-quality care to which our patients and communities are accustomed — and ensure that care endures for another 100 years and beyond.”

Bellin Health and Gundersen are committed to people, not profits, by extending a full continuum of care to patients and communities with the widest array of providers and services.

 “This merger would bring new opportunities to expand this important community-minded work. We are two not-for-profit health systems that take what we earn and re-invest those dollars back into our communities and into patient care,” said Scott Rathgaber, MD, CEO of Gundersen Health System. “We invest dollars to improve health outcomes, specifically for marginalized individuals and broadly for everyone in our care. Through this model, we also work hard to lower or maintain premiums on health plans, which reduces costs for the employers and businesses we serve.”

The two health systems are deep into the process of coming together, with a definitive agreement expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. As discussions continue, Gundersen and Bellin Health patients will still see the same healthcare providers they know and trust, receiving the high level of personalized care they expect. Over time, the systems intend to provide patients access to more resources and a broader network, including top-tier clinical services, shared provider expertise, state-of-the-art technology and digital healthcare tools that bring virtual care options into homes and workplaces. In addition, communities would benefit as Bellin Health and Gundersen lead advancements in Population Health — an approach that cares for all people’s physical health, mental and financial well-being, home life and more. Health equity, preventive health and behavioral health will remain core elements of the systems’ shared mission to bring the very best in care to the people and communities they serve.

“Our health systems have been successfully fulfilling our missions, but we know that we will thrive and best serve our patients and communities by finding partners with shared missions and strategic visions,” Dr. Rathgaber said. “We are proud and fortunate to have found such a partner in Bellin Health.”

Pending a final agreement and regulatory review, the merger would maintain the systems’ current headquarters in both Green Bay and La Crosse and have a balanced leadership structure that places each of the two top positions — CEO and board chair — in different regions to ensure shared decision-making and equal representation. Dr. Rathgaber would serve as System CEO (Gundersen). The Chair of the newly created Board would be John Dykema, currently Chair of the Bellin Health Board of Directors, residing in Northeast Wisconsin. Chris Woleske would serve as System Executive Vice President and Regional President of the Northern Counties (Bellin).

Each system’s website has more information: and

About Bellin Health: Bellin Health is an integrated healthcare delivery system based in Green Bay, Wis. It has served people in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1908. Bellin Health has more than 5,000 employees and is known for its emphasis on preventive healthcare and is a leader in cardiac, orthopedics, sports medicine, digestive health, mental health, and primary care medicine. It is comprised of Bellin Hospital, Bellin Psychiatric Center, 29 Bellin Health primary and specialty care physician clinics, and retail health clinics known as Bellin Health FastCare. Bellin operates Bellin Health Oconto Hospital, a critical care access hospital in Oconto, Wis., Bellin Fitness, Bellin Health Home Care Equipment and Bellin College. The health system also belongs to Bellin Health Partners, a clinically integrated network that includes Bellin Health, its employed providers and independent affiliated providers and Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, Wis., and its employed providers. 

About Gundersen: Gundersen Health System is a physician-led, non-profit, comprehensive integrated healthcare network headquartered in La Crosse, Wis. We have more than 9,000 employees, including nearly 1,000 clinicians, serving 22 counties in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, and northeast Iowa. With well over one million patient visits every year across our seven hospitals and more than 60 clinic locations, Gundersen’s purpose is to enhance the health and well-being of our communities and enrich every life we touch. Learn more about our excellence in patient care, education, research and something we call Love + Medicine at