Marshfield says “no” to opening a clinic in former nursing home

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Marshfield Clinic has officially decided not to open a clinic at the former location of Mayo Clinic in the old nursing home on the north side of Colfax.

Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, reported at the Colfax Village Board’s March 13 meeting that she had met on March 7 with Jill Gengler, Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center administrator, and with a representative for Marshfield Clinic.

The representative for Marshfield Clinic said even though Scott Polenz, the chief administrative officer for Marshfield Clinic, feels a “great connection” with the community and realizes he will be disappointing people living in and around Colfax by not opening a clinic, Marshfield Clinic has decided to remain focused on other priorities and projects currently in the works, Niggemann said. 

Polenz, along with other Marshfield Clinic staff, held a public forum in Colfax at the Viking Bowl in October of 2016 to talk about the possibility of Marshfield opening a clinic here.

After finding out Mayo planned to close the Colfax clinic July 1, 2016, the Village of Colfax sent out a survey to gauge the community’s interest in another clinic locating in Colfax.

Of those who responded to the survey question asking about part-time hours for the clinic, 123 said they would prefer mornings (8 a.m. to noon); 79 people said afternoon (noon to 4 p.m.); and 70 said 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In response to a question on the survey asking about what kinds of services people would want a health-care provider to offer in Colfax, out of those who responded, 147 said they wanted blood work; 144 wanted routine care; 104 wanted x-rays; 67 wanted physicals; 4 wanted nail care; 39 said any medical issue; 13 said family medicine; 7 said blood pressure; 21 said emergencies; 2 said ultrasounds; 4 said mammograms; 4 wanted flu shots to be available; 1 person said a cardiologist; 2 said allergies; 6 said pediatrics; 2 wanted orthopedics; 2 said same-day appointments; 1 respondent said an MRI; and 10 wanted prescription renewals. 

Marshfield Clinic would have needed to see ten to 12 patients per day in Colfax, plus do some lab work, to make it feasible to open a facility in Colfax, Polenz said at the forum last October. 

Engineers for Marshfield Clinic had conducted walk-throughs of the clinic facility on High Street this past fall, and the estimated cost for remodeling the clinic so Marshfield could move in was $77,000. 

The Colfax Village Board approved donating $7,000 toward remodeling the clinic at the December 27 meeting.

Niggemann told the village board at the March 13 meeting she and Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, plan to continue meeting and exploring other options for providing medical services in Colfax.

A statement from Marshfield Clinic on the Colfax primary care site dated March 8 states: “Ensuring access to world-class, affordable care is the heart of the mission of Marshfield Clinic Health System. We appreciate the opportunity to explore with village staff and elected officials the opportunity to establish a new primary care site in Colfax, but at this point we must stay focused on other priorities and projects currently underway. We hope there will be an opportunity to revisit this in the future.” — Scott Polenz, CPA, MBA, Chief Administrative Officer, Eau Claire Hospital.

According to the statement, the Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care with more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin.