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"Could be devastating:" Ascension St. Joseph scaling back on some services involving higher levels of care

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Changes are coming to a Milwaukee hospital vital to its community.

Ascension St. Joseph is scaling back on some services involving higher levels of care.

The problem for people who live nearby is it leaves them with few other options.

"For other people who don't have transportation it's the closest hospital so it is shocking and kind of hurtful to some people," said Danielle Clinton, a neighbor.

Multiple local leaders like Aldermen Khalif Rainey and Michael Murphy are critical of the reductions. Alderman Bob Donovan wants them reversed.

“It could be devastating to [patients], the fact that they may have to cross the entire city to get the services they need," Donovan said.

St. Joseph will be keeping the services they believe their patients need most.

Bernie Sherry, Ministry Market Executive, Ascension Wisconsin shared the following statement:

Ascension St. Joseph is committed to maintaining the emergency department, OB/GYN and our Women's Health Department, our NICU, observation beds and to growing our primary care clinic. This program of services represents a $150 million annual commitment. At the same time, our vision is to transform the St. Joe's campus into an urban health village that brings together partners to address social and community needs and spark economic investment in the Sherman Park neighborhood. We invite the public to talk with us to shape this innovative approach to community health and wellness together.

“The hospital costs are so expensive so they should have enough money to keep it going and they shouldn’t have to downsize,” Clinton said.

Patients will be transported to Ascension partner facilities if needed.

George Hinton, the CEO of the Social Development Commission and a former hospital administrator, says that’s not good enough.

“We ship them off to another hospital in the city, how does their family get to them?" Hinton said.

Hinton calls these rollbacks a “dismantling of a neighborhood’s safety net.”

Ascension says this is part of a larger plan for St. Joseph. The hospital will eventually address other aspects of healthcare besides physical wellbeing, such as job training.

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