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GREEN BAY — NORTHSTAR Health System and Bellin Health recently announced the expansion of their partnership in a move to enhance operational effectiveness at the Iron River health system’s primary care clinics and improve services for the surrounding communities.
Under the agreement, Bellin Health will oversee operations at NORTHSTAR’s five clinic locations and provide additional management staff. The clinics will remain under the ownership of NORTHSTAR and employees of the clinics will remain NORTHSTAR employees.
Bellin Health, based in Green Bay, Wis., is recognized as a leader in primary care. The health system has 85 providers within its network of 26 primary care clinics, including locations in the Upper Peninsula cities of Iron Mountain, Norway, Kingsford and Escanaba.
“I am pleased that we have been able to continue finding ways to advance the quality of health care in this area, and this partnership is a prime example,” said Bruce Rampage, president and CEO of NORTHSTAR. “Bellin brings considerable expertise in the area of primary care and an approach that is consistent with our goals and values. This is a great benefit to our community.”
NORTHSTAR has made a continuous effort to enhance health services to the community, renovating and expanding the hospital in 2009, and 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 including full-field digital mammography.
Earlier this year, the two health systems announced their initial partnership. Within that agreement, Bellin Health was tabbed to provide strategic guidance and resources related to primary preventative medicine, community health initiatives and electronic medical record technology. The partnership was also designed to provide improved access to services and physicians in primary and specialty areas that are currently underserved in the Iron River area.
The initial announcement followed 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, ultimately determining Bellin to be the best option.
“In NORTHSTAR, we have found an exceptional partner with the shared goal of advancing the health of the region we serve through high-quality, cost-effective products and services,” said George Kerwin, president and CEO of Bellin Health. “We will accomplish this by providing residents with locally-based resources and services, including exceptional primary care, and access to advanced and specialty care within the region, when needed.”
Officials say the most visible benefit for area health care consumers will be the standardization of processes within the NORTHSTAR clinics, which will result in quicker and more consistent health care.
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About NORTHSTAR Health System
NORTHSTAR Health System is a critical access, non-profit organization that has been dedicated to serving the health care needs of the communities in the West Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northern Wisconsin for the past 40 years. NHS partnered with Bellin Health of Green Bay, Wisconsin in the spring of 2011 to provide better access to quality health care to the communities it serves. For more information on NORTHSTAR Health System, visit www.northstarhs.org or call (906) 265-6121.
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, 26 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 200 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.