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The Madison Region’s Health Care Systems Are Among the Nation’s Best

Health care is a key component of the Madison Region’s economy, with more than 1,500 establishments that employ over 70,000 workers.

By Val Hunt Beerbower on September 23, 2022

Access to excellent health care options doesn’t just make a community a great place to live. Quality health care is also essential for the economic success of the region.

University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics (UW Health) understands how health care and the economy are intertwined.

Juli Aulik, director of community relations at UW Health, notes that the County Health Rankings model of health created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that health care and health behaviors contribute to 50% of community health.

“Economic, social and environmental factors make up the remainder, including income, employment, housing and transit,” she says. “As a result, UW Health has taken the approach that our role is not only as a premier provider of health care but also as a contributor to our region’s economic development.”

The University of Wisconsin first opened Wisconsin General Hospital in 1924, and today UW Health continues to fulfill its patient care, research, education and community services missions. UW Health offers seven hospitals, 32 primary care facilities, 60 specialty care clinics, 56 lab and imaging locations, 13 pharmacies and 56 regional specialty clinics in its network throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The system cares for more than 700,000 patients annually and employs 1,849 physicians and 21,000 additional workers. 

Other significant health systems, including SSM Health and Mercyhealth, have a presence in the region and are major employers, as are community hospitals in JanesvilleBeloitBeaver Dam and Dodgeville.

Nurses chatting at a computer station inside of UW Health, which is located in the Greater Madison Region.
UW Health

Accessible Care

One way of helping residents contribute to a vibrant community is through accessible health care.

“We have a nationally recognized language access program,” Aulik says. “We presently provide $3.7 million in direct contributions to community organizations. We work in collaboration with other health care providers and community organizations — especially those led by people of color — to ensure effective and meaningful responses to community needs. We recently invested $1 million in a workforce housing fund that is already supporting new housing in our county.”

UW Health researches to “take the temperature” of local needs to help direct programs and funds to where they may be most needed. A community health needs assessment helps form a related community health improvement plan, Aulik says.

“This drives strategy and resources into key areas such as reproductive justice, chronic disease prevention and treatment, behavioral health and injury prevention,” she says.

Photo of a Med Flight at UW Health, which is located in the Greater Madison Region.
UW Health

Community Input

Survey data is deployed throughout the UW Health facilities to serve the region better. One example is a new program that supports pregnant patients with social needs in Dane County to impact neonatal survival rates positively.

“Our community health needs assessment, and implementation plan rely heavily on community input for both findings and recommendations,” she said. “With other health care providers, community partners and community members, we co-created ConnectRx, which links Black people to community resources in a personally tailored way to support positive birth outcomes. This program was conceived of, designed and implemented based on community input, guidance and direction. 

The organization itself is also growing. UW Health anticipates opening its newest hospital in 2024, a 469,000-square-foot medical facility called Eastpark Medical Center that will be located off the interstate on Madison’s east side. The facility is designed sustainably and with innovative care coordination that will allow patients to see multiple specialty care providers in a single visit.

Eastpark Medical Center will include on-site adult specialty clinics, advanced imaging and lab services, rooms with negative airflow, a drive-through pharmacy, and exam rooms designed for telehealth and virtual care. 

The green facility will generate 30% of its energy from solar power and create 130 new jobs and employment for 543 clinical staff and 291 nonclinical staff.

“UW Health will continue its mission to meet the public’s ever-changing health care needs as a dynamic partner in the Madison Region’s economic engine,” Aulik says. “We recognize our role as not only a provider of remarkable health care but also as a major employer, economic development engine, innovator and community partner.”

Nurses working with a child in the operating theater at UW Health, which is part of the Greater Madison Region.
UW Health

The Picture of Health

Madison Region residents have plenty of choices when choosing providers for their health care needs.

  • American Family Children’s Hospital: A member of the UW Health system, the 111-bed facility in Madison includes a 26-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, Level I pediatric trauma center and a burn center. The hospital has been cited for specialty services, including pediatric cardiology, neonatology, nephrology and gastroenterology.
  • Mercyhealth: This regional health system features seven hospitals and 85 primary and specialty care locations throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. As an integrated health care provider, it provides services in four core divisions: hospital-based services, clinic-based services, post-acute care and retail services, and a wholly-owned insurance company. Mercyhealth offers more than 125 specialty and subspecialty services, including orthopedic surgery, prehospital emergency services and training, neurosurgery, heart and vascular services, cancer care, and plastic and reconstructive surgery. The organization also specializes in obstetric, neonatal and pediatric services.
  • SSM Health: The Catholic-affiliated, not-for-profit health system is one of the largest employers in every community it serves. The SSM Health Dean Medical Group, established in Madison in 1904, serves patients at more than 60 clinics in south-central Wisconsin. The group includes SSM Health Davis Duehr Dean Eye Care, insurance provider Dean Health Plan and pharmacy benefits company Navitus Health Solutions. Approximately 500 physicians provide primary, specialty and tertiary care in the clinics. In addition, the system serves more than 400,000 health plan members.
  • UnityPoint Health-Meriter: A part of UnityPoint Health and a UW Health partner, the 448-bed hospital lays claim to the busiest birthing center in Wisconsin. In addition to the not-for-profit hospital, UnityPoint Health-Meriter also serves families through primary care clinics, home health care services, laboratory services and, through its UnityPoint- Meriter Foundation, various charities and philanthropic activities.
  • Select Specialty Hospitals: This critical illness recovery facility offers patients with medically complex conditions the ability to continue their recovery to regain their quality of life. Physician-led, multi-disciplinary care teams support that recovery by developing a customized treatment plan that helps patients breathe, eat, walk, talk and cognate again.

If you’d like to learn more about the Madison Region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Madison Region

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