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More than 300 turn out to support new medical center

Friday, May 06, 2005

County vote does little to dampen enthusiasm for the project

More than 300 people attended an event Thursday evening to demonstrate their continuing support for construction of a new medical center to serve the people of western Waukesha County.

“This is really overwhelming,” said David Ulery, M.D., an Oconomowoc pediatrician and president of Wilkinson Medical Clinic.  “After the terrible disappointment of last week’s County Board vote, it was simply wonderful to see this many people turn out to voice their support and encourage us to press ahead.”

Dr. Ulery explained that the event was scheduled chiefly to provide an opportunity to thank those who have supported the medical center project.

“So many people have poured their hearts and souls into this effort, we just wanted to say thank you and reaffirm that we remain committed to the goal,” Dr. Ulery said.

The dinner event was held at Olympia Resort and Conference Center.  Fewer than half of those attending were Wilkinson employees.  The rest were residents of the Town of Summit and other Waukesha County communities.

A year ago Aurora Health Care proposed construction of a 21st century medical center to serve the fast-growing communities of western Waukesha County.  The project, on a site in the Town of Summit, would incorporate an 88-bed hospital and a new Wilkinson Medical Clinic to replace the Wilkinson location in Oconomowoc.

The project was endorsed by the Summit town manager/planner and the Town of Summit Plan Commission, then approved by the Summit Town Board in a unanimous decision last December. 

A county approval process also was required.  At a public hearing in February before the Waukesha County Board, supporters of the project far outnumbered opponents.  The project subsequently received a strong endorsement from the county’s own professional planning staff and from the Waukesha County Park & Planning Commission. But on April 26, the Waukesha County Board rejected the project.

“County supervisors were subjected to enormous pressure from the county’s dominant health care provider to block our project and thereby preserve the existing monopoly,” said Greg Banks, president of Aurora’s Kettle Moraine Region.  “It was a sad day for those who believe in the American free enterprise system.”

Banks said that Aurora was considering a range of options for moving forward.  “We made a promise to our 40,000 patients in western Waukesha County, and we intend to keep it,” he said.

Wilkinson Medical Clinic has been serving the people of western Waukesha County since 1893.  The clinic joined Aurora Health Care in 1997.  Wilkinson Medical Clinic has locations in Oconomowoc, Hartland, Pewaukee, Delafield, Wales and Dousman.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of care. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 80 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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