“Our commitment to the people of Kenosha and Kenosha County as a whole is strong,” said Kenosha Hospital (Froedtert South) CEO Ric Schmidt, only four months ago. He said that the ER near downtown was closing, but offered mitigating details to provide hope to the citizens. He said there would be a 24 / 7 / 365 Urgent Care Center. Schmidt also told residents that “we’re moving forward with plans to convert underutilized space at Froedtert Kenosha Hospital to host two much-needed services: inpatient and outpatient mental health and inpatient rehabilitation.” This statement tricked many into excitement, in the face of losing a valuable emergency department when violence is rising and shootings are becoming commonplace. For example, Kenosha County Board Supervisor Andy Berg (D) said the following on September 9, 2022: “We will soon have inpatient and outpatient MENTAL HEALTH in our community. I am glad that the planets have finally aligned and that the voices of Kenosha County have been heard. Stay tuned for who the occupants will be.” He dismissed the danger of losing the ER. Here is the thing: Hospital insiders told us the mental health component hasn’t manifested. Our insider also told us that any day Schmidt will be cutting the hours in half at the Urgent Care, with no warning or advanced community notice. The Urgent Care will soon be open only 7 am to 7 pm.
Schmidt has gotten rich off of Kenosha Hospital, and according to online records makes about $1.4 million dollars per year. Some healthcare providers from Froedtert who spoke to KCE says Schmidt’s decisions are based solely on financial reasons, not community service. The hospital, which is in a poor part of the City, receives many Medicaid and Medicare patients and that isn’t making what the hospital wants to make. One staff member shared the following with KCE:
“The administration at the Froedert South Healthcare System can not be oblivious to this. They are choosing to turn a blind eye to the reality that they are going to create by making these changes to a community that has been loyal to them, even though this loyalty has not been reciprocated. While their mission statement includes their values of integrity, respect, accountability, and commitment, they are doing nothing to practice them. They have not been honest to the community and are showing a blatant disregard for the commitment to them. When confronted with the changes being made, they take no accountability for the negative affects they have and will have in the community that had built their business from nothing. At what point do you finally think about why you are in healthcare and stop thinking about ‘business deals’ and money?“
KCE has usually corresponded with Vice President Tom Duncan (D), who was also the Kenosha Unified School District Board President. We emailed Duncan and got a “bounce back” saying that he has retired effective 12/31/2022. The automatic email said to contact Nick Galich, Duncan’s apparent successor, with any questions. We did, and did not hear back. We also called and emailed Ric Schmidt. No answer.
It almost seems obvious that the plan from the start was to close down Kenosha Hospital altogether. Apparently the City of Kenosha residents were not worthy of such information. Apparently the hard-working staff at the hospital wasn’t either. We were slow-played. We were offered hope – false hope. If Schmidt had been honest with the community from the beginning, maybe a better plan could have took form with another organization. Shame on you, Ric Schmidt. The community that made you rich deserves better.