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The Bellin Health Surgery & Specialty Center set to open soon

The Ashwaubenon facility aims to transform the way patients access specialized medical services

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January 23, 2024

ASHWAUBENON — The Bellin Health Surgery & Specialty Center — a first-of-its-kind in healthcare delivery for Bellin — is opening its doors at 933 Waube Lane in March.

The five-story, 256,000-square-foot facility is the first from-the-ground-up project for Bellin Health in Brown County since the establishment of Bellin Health Titletown in 2017.

Jennifer Macdonald, senior vice president of specialty service lines for Bellin Health, said the project kicked off about four years ago when Bellin Health acquired the land.

Macdonald said the health system recognized the opportunity to capitalize on this easy-access site to build a facility tailored to patients’ needs today and into the future.

“We recognized we needed to progress toward (creating) an outpatient surgery center, but couldn’t add on to our hospital campus,” she said.

Macdonald said the original plan was to offer outpatient surgery at the facility and keep patients for 23 hours or less.

“But it quickly grew to include other services,” she said.

The facility, Macdonald said, houses orthopedics, podiatry and rheumatology, as well as imaging, lab services, home care equipment, pharmacy and therapy to serve surgical patients and patients who need some of those services without an associated surgical procedure.

“We intended to not only support surgery but also (support patients) who just need a lab for their primary care physician or an ultrasound or other care,” she said. “Our goal is to be comprehensive in the healthcare delivery we provide under one roof.”

Macdonald said the specialties are among the key areas in which Bellin sees growth and opportunity to best serve patients — which includes addressing needs for better access to health care.

“If patients don’t have access, especially with diagnostics and surgery, their condition can worsen sometimes,” she said. “Providing good access and an ability to accommodate patients differently is important to addressing their needs sooner.”

Macdonald said the facility will not only centralize services for convenience, but the mere location of the facility is a convenience as well — located right off Interstate 41 in the Village of Ashwaubenon.

Its proximity to several highways, she said, accommodates patients driving from a variety of outlying communities, and the 15-acre property allows for an abundance of parking.

Inside the facility
Macdonald said the facility itself was crafted with great intention to serve patients’ changing needs and simultaneously accommodate opportunities for growth for Bellin Health as a result.

Among those, she said, are orthopedic surgeries and care.

The first floor of the Bellin Health Surgery & Specialty Center features the lobby and registration area, imaging, laboratory services, pharmacy, rehabilitation/therapy services, homecare equipment and clinic space. Submitted Rendering

Though orthopedics provides care to all ages — including many youth — Macdonald said she and others also recognize the increased need for orthopedics with the aging patient population.

“We have an aging population who need surgical focus,” she said. “And we have the opportunity to keep people healthy through rehabilitation and therapy to keep them out of surgery.”

For those who require surgery, Macdonald said having the complementary services right in-house is a huge asset to patients.

“They can get the home care equipment and medications right there without having to make another stop after they leave,” she said.

Macdonald said the center was also built to incorporate the most forward-thinking and efficient technology and with simplified wayfinding (the use of signage, color and other design elements to help occupants navigate a space) — which she said in health systems is often a challenge with a variety of wings and multiple banks of elevators.

“With wayfinding in this facility, it’s nearly impossible to get lost,” she said. “The design is intelligent with onstage and offstage areas for patients and staff. You won’t run into taking three lefts and a right. Instead, we have one waiting area and one bank of elevators for each space. The clinical space design is well thought out and well done.”

Looking at the project in its entirety, Macdonald said the center was crafted with a focus on the patient’s goals of care at the forefront accompanied by safe care in a comfortable environment staffed by providers and care teams who are experts in what they do.

“All of this is about understanding the patients’ wants and needs and addressing those with a care team that is supportive and delivers in a cost-efficient manner,” she said.

Project phases and leveling up
Macdonald said starting in March, the facility will open in phases, with some floors opening sooner than others.

Phase one of the project is complete, including the full exterior and first two levels of the building.

Level one features the lobby and registration area, as well as imaging, laboratory services, pharmacy, rehabilitation/therapy services, homecare equipment and clinic space.

Total joint surgeons from Bellin’s Titletown campus will serve patients here, as will podiatry and rheumatology providers.

Floor two, Macdonald said, is dedicated to outpatient surgeries, beginning with orthopedic-based surgeries and rolling in other specialties.

The space, she said, includes 12, hotel-like, extended-stay suites with private bathrooms for overnight-eligible patients, as well as pre-operative and recovery areas and operating rooms.

“We will open full-time starting with levels one and two, with clinic hours typically running from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and therapy a bit earlier and later,” she said. “In addition, surgeries will start super early in the morning.”

In late 2024, Macdonald said Phase two of the project will go live, and levels three and four of the facility will become operational.

Jennifer Macdonald said the facility has one waiting area and one bank of elevators for each space, making it nearly impossible to get lost. Submitted Rendering

Macdonald said this will include digestive health on level three — which encompasses digestive health and gastroenterology services, the GI clinic and GI Lab for performing services, such as endoscopies, colonoscopies, etc.

This will include mid-level providers, physicians and their teams.

The fourth level, Macdonald said, will house the Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic — which is relocating from an aging location on Webster Avenue — as well as audiology, followed by the Asthma & Allergy Clinic (currently located off Monroe), as well as immunology.

“That will be great (for those two departments in particular) because they share a lot of patients, and locating those two together will provide great opportunities for providers to collaborate,” she said. “Phase two is when we’ll see the multidisciplinary approach in action.”

Designed with patients in mind
Macdonald said Bellin knows it needs buildings it can grow and evolve in to provide the best care with the best tech and the best teams to address patients’ needs.

“Our decisions weren’t made just from a physician’s lens or a staff member’s lens or administrator’s lens,” she said.

Instead, Macdonald said, the facility was designed with patient input — which included involvement by Patient Advisor Rosie Bartel.

Macdonald said Bartel has served as a patient advisor/partner to health care for about 13 years, and has contributed a voice to Bellin Health’s projects for about the past 10 years, including renovations and new facility builds for about the past five years.

Her input, Macdonald said, is multi-pronged — she speaks on behalf of patients in a general sense, as well as specifically to accessibility issues and infection prevention.

Macdonald said Bartel contracted a healthcare-acquired infection in a different health system in 2009 that resulted in amputation from her waist down on the right side of her body involving 58 surgeries and more than 200 hospitalizations.

In the ensuing years, Macdonald said Bartel has contributed a patient voice to a variety of healthcare entities, as well as spoken at numerous national and international healthcare-related conferences.

“I can’t change what happened to me, but I can look at what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen to somebody else,” Bartel said.

Macdonald said Bartel was asked to contribute to the project from day one.

“I started from the beginning when we met with the architect and put in things to make it more accessible for people with handicaps as well as to ensure it is an environment that’s safe and clean,” Bartel said.

Macdonald said Bartel’s work continued during construction and ranged from ensuring tables could accommodate wheelchairs, confirming registration would work quickly and smoothly, determining where to place handicap-accessible bathrooms, etc.

Jennifer Macdonald

“We went through every little thing like that,” Bartel said. “I sat in meetings to determine how to make this as smooth and convenient for patients so they feel like theyíre the most important thing and what’s happening to them is the most important thing.”

Bartel said she visited Bellin’s existing rehabilitation services at the Titletown location to understand patient experience with joint replacements there to learn what did and didn’t go smoothly.

And though she spent a lot of time contributing to what she describes as the “soft touches” of the project, Bartel said she also focused deeply on infection control — doing so with the knowledge she obtained from working with the University of Wisconsin Infectious Disease Department.

When it comes to this facility for Bellin, Bartel said she is proud and appreciative to have had a seat at the table.

“From day one, I was at the table and my voice was heard alongside all the others on the agenda even though I was the only patient in the meeting,” she said. “Bellin values the patient voice.”

Positioned for the future
Bellin Region President Chris Woleske said the co-location of several providers in a center setting is an integral part of positioning Bellin for decades to come.

Chris Woleske

“The center sets the stage for continued innovation and excellence in patient care in the future,” she said. “As more and more surgeries and procedures are approved for an outpatient setting, this facility will allow us to expand our services in a convenient location for this region. We are committed to the communities we serve, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact this new facility will have on patient experience in our region.”

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