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Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Aurora Health Care Announce Agreement On Shared Anesthesiology and Radiology Services

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The following news release was issued by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Aurora Health Care:

Milwaukee, Wis. -- Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Aurora Health Care announced today that they will share certain hospital-based physician services.

"These challenging times require fresh solutions if we are to maintain high quality, accessible care," said John Oliverio, president and chief executive officer of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. "In this case, two competing health care providers have found a cost-effective way to work together that will benefit patients with continued high quality services."

Nick Turkal, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Aurora Health Care, also welcomed the new relationship.

"We look forward to working with the Wheaton organization and sharing outstanding specialty services," Dr. Turkal said. "We hope that our agreement encourages a new spirit of cooperation among health care providers. Competing organizations may increasingly find that the best way to serve their community is to work together."

Under the new agreement, physicians specializing in anesthesiology and radiology will continue care for patients at hospitals, clinics and surgery centers operated by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Aurora Health Care. The physicians, while practicing as part of Aurora Medical Group, will serve on the staffs of both organizations.

The agreement chiefly involves physicians from Summit Anesthesiology, Ltd., who joined Aurora Medical Group March 1, and the former Radiology Associates of Milwaukee, who joined Aurora Medical Group in early 2008. The physician services will be provided to Wheaton sites through the newly formed Midwest Area Physicians, LLC, a subsidiary of Aurora Medical Group.

Most of these physicians have long served Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare patients. The new agreement will ensure that they can continue to provide the excellent care they have in the past. Specifically, the anesthesiologists and radiologists will serve Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - St. Joseph, its outpatient center in Wauwatosa, and The Wisconsin Heart Hospital. The radiologists also will serve Elmbrook Memorial in Brookfield.

The 29 physicians of Summit Anesthesiology Ltd. currently practice at both Aurora and Wheaton hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in the Milwaukee area.

"We are delighted that these anesthesiologists have chosen to join our group practice," said Jeff Bailet, M.D., president of Aurora Medical Group. "These are premier specialists who contribute greatly to the quality of the care we provide for patients."

John Gobis, M.D., president of Summit Anesthesiology, said: "We have practiced at Aurora facilities since 2000, and we have always been impressed by the professionalism of the people at Aurora. We believe that an affiliation with Aurora offers a strong opportunity to grow our practice. At the same time, my colleagues and I value our relationships at both the Aurora and Wheaton organizations and feel fortunate that we will be able to continue to serve patients of both systems."

With the addition of Summit Anesthesiology, Aurora Medical Group is creating a division of anesthesiology to advance the practice of anesthesiology throughout the organization. Aurora also provides anesthesiology services through contractual relationships with other anesthesiology groups. Those relationships will continue.

Aurora Medical Group also has a system-wide radiology practice. The practice was established at the beginning of 2008 when the 28 physicians of Radiology Associates of Milwaukee joined Aurora Medical Group. The practice expanded in December when the 33 physicians of Great Lakes Radiologists joined Aurora.

"Our radiologists have cared for patients of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare for many years, and we look forward to continuing to provide that care," said Dale Lye, M.D., leader of Aurora Medical Group's radiology division.

About Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare: Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare (WFH) is a Catholic not-for-profit organization with more than 100 health and shelter organizations in Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Illinois. In Southeast Wisconsin, WFH is co-sponsored by the Wheaton Franciscan and Felician Sisters and nearly 12,000 associates, making it the second largest private employer in the area. Hospitals include All Saints in Racine County, St. Joseph, The Wisconsin Heart Hospital, St. Francis, and Franklin in Milwaukee County, and Elmbrook Memorial in Waukesha County. The region also includes Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group with more than 350 primary care and specialty physicians.

About Aurora Health Care: Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of care. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Jeff Squire (414) 647-3408
Anne Ballentine (414) 465-3605

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