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Ascension puts plans to scale back services at St. Joseph Hospital on hold

Updated: 5:00 p.m. on April 19, 2018

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The long-term future may be unclear, but for now, people in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood don't have to worry about a big reduction in services at St. Joseph Hospital. 

Its parent health care provider, Ascension, has put cutback plans on hold. 

Earlier in April, Ascension Wisconsin announced plans to cut back services at St. Joseph Hospital and since then, Ascension officials say they've received quite a bit of backlash from city leaders, so now they're reversing course. 

A number of services were on the chopping block for St. Joseph Hospital, including higher levels of care like surgical stays leaving fewer services available to the public. 

"We had a meeting two days ago right here in the Mayor's office. It was a very frank meeting. It was a very respectful meeting," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Thursday. 

It was the first of what Mayor Barret hopes are several more meetings to come. He gave credit to the company for listening to the community's needs. 

"I know there are financial pressures and other pressures at play here, but I think it's important, with whatever decision they ultimately make, it's made in consultation with the community and an understanding of what the ramifications are going to be," Barrett said. 

When the announcement was made about cuts, city leaders feared the impact it could have throughout the city and a possible ripple effect on other hospitals. 

"I think it's part of their challenge; letting people know what's going on, what they're doing. But at the end of the day, I want to make sure there is going to be healthcare for the people who live in the city," Mayor Barrett said. 

Alderman Bob Donovan called on Ascension to wait a year before making changes. He said he hopes to be part of the conversation moving forward. 

"To map out what are the next steps, how do we get to better health care across Milwaukee? How do we provide the services that all of our residents need regardless of where they live in the city?" 8th District Ald. Bob Donovan said. 

The hospital group says in order to continue services, some changes may need to be made in the future. They say there is no timeline or specific date for when that might happen. 

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Posted: April 18, 2018

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Ascension Wisconsin is walking back on their plans to cut services at St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee.

There was backlash from city leaders earlier this month when the hospital said it was going to scale back some services involving higher levels of care.

In a statement released Wednesday, the hospital says they will remain committed to providing healthcare to patients. See the full statement from Ascension Healthcare Senior Vice President Bernie Sherry below:

 “Over the last two weeks, we’ve been meeting with city leaders and residents and we’ve had great dialogue about Ascension St. Joseph Hospital. We’ve heard how important Ascension is to Milwaukee in providing healthcare to our most vulnerable neighbors. That is, and always has been, our Mission. It is work we are privileged to do.

Based on the feedback we’ve received from the mayor, Common Council members, community leaders and others, we have decided to pause our plan to reconfigure medical services from St. Joe’s to Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee as we continue to engage stakeholders on transforming healthcare in Milwaukee. We’re gratified that the Common Council recognizes our role as critical, frontline care institutions. With three city hospitals – Ascension St. Joseph, Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee and Ascension St. Francis – we are Milwaukee’s safety net hospital system. We provide 100% access, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. We’re proud of that and we remain committed to that. We have served Milwaukee for over a century and we look forward to providing personalized, compassionate care for many generations to come.”

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