Mayo Clinic has proposed building a medical facility in Hudson, Wis., that would be part clinic and part hospital — a development that would signal increased competition among Minnesota health systems for patients east of the St. Croix River.
A notice published this week by the plan commission in Hudson says Mayo Clinic is seeking a conditional use permit to develop the 100,000-square-foot medical facility on about 9 acres of vacant land near Interstate 94.
The building would include 60 to 75 clinic rooms, six to eight operating rooms and four procedure suites, according to a document on file with the city. Two rooms would allow patients to stay overnight after surgery, but not more than 24 hours.
"They've got a significant presence in western Wisconsin already. … I think they want to strengthen that presence," said Allan Baumgarten, an independent health care analyst in St. Louis Park. He added: "I think it is a direct challenge to HealthPartners."
Bloomington-based HealthPartners already has substantial operations in western Wisconsin, including Hudson Hospital, Amery Medical Center and Westfields Hospital in New Richmond. The HealthPartners hospital in Hudson is roughly 1.5 miles west of the parcel that Mayo would purchase.
Last year, when HealthPartners sought approval to expand the number of beds at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, officials said one reason was the growing number of patients traveling from western Wisconsin for care.
There's also competition in western Wisconsin from Minneapolis-based Allina Health System, which operates the hospital in the nearby town of River Falls. Last year, Allina opened a clinic in River Falls that provides access to specialty services, said spokesman David Kanihan.
"We just learned of this and don't have a complete picture of what services Mayo is looking to locate at this large facility," Kanihan said in a statement. "However, as we learn more and evaluate the information, we think the conversation should revolve around community needs. Does this project help fill gaps and meet needs or will it add more capacity in already well-served areas which could have an impact on existing community resources?"
Beyond boosting competition for Wisconsin patients, the Mayo development would bring the world-famous clinic closer to the Twin Cities market for health care. Currently, Mayo's most significant outpost in the metro is a prominent sports medicine clinic in Minneapolis.
Mayo Clinic has a large network of hospitals and clinics that extends across southern Minnesota into Iowa and Wisconsin. Some of those operations lie at the southern edge of the metro.
In Hudson, the planning commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Mayo proposal on Feb. 22.
"We have agreed to purchase approximately 10 acres of land at Stageline Road in the city of Hudson and submitted a land zoning application for a conditional-use permit to allow for all flexibility in considering the types of services to offer," Michael Morrey, regional chair of administration for the Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin, said in a statement.
An attorney for Mayo Clinic wrote in a Feb. 2 letter that the city zoning department indicated the proposed use might fall within the scope of a "hospital," and not merely a "medical clinic," according to a copy provided by city officials. "The lack of an exact definition within the Code gives rise to uncertainty as to how to classify Mayo's proposed use," the attorney wrote.
The letter did not specify how much Mayo Clinic would spend on the project, other than saying it "would be a significant investment." For Mayo to complete the real estate transaction, the clinic needs to know that the city will approve the proposed land use, the letter states.
"Mayo Clinic Health System will be engaging with community leaders and residents across western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota about their health care and broader community needs to determine the best use of the property," said a statement Friday from Dr. Richard Helmers, regional vice president for Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin.
In November, HealthPartners sought a review by the Minnesota Department of Health for its proposal to add 100 licensed beds at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Since 2012, Regions Hospital discharges from Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin have grown by 6 percent annually, according to documents filed with the state.
Reviewers with the health department issued a response this week seeking more information on the proposal, including an estimate for "potential shifts in patient flow from Wisconsin hospitals such as Hudson Hospital and Westfields Hospital."
Vince Rivard, a HealthPartners spokesman, said Friday the Mayo proposal would have no effect on the call for more beds at Regions, which is still under review.
In western Wisconsin, Mayo Clinic runs a hospital in Eau Claire and operates in several smaller communities. Baumgarten, the health care analyst, said a prominent Wisconsin health system called Marshfield Clinic is in the process of building a new hospital in Eau Claire.
"Marshfield Clinic is building up on the east, and presumably has the same data available as Mayo Clinic has in terms of where are areas of growth, where are areas of favorable demographics in western Wisconsin," Baumgarten said. "Maybe Mayo is concerned that if they don't move quickly to establish a significant presence around Hudson, that in a couple of years maybe Marshfield Clinic will move in that direction."
Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744