Froedtert & MCW, ThedaCare partnership announced, to expand access

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network and ThedaCare on Tuesday, Sept. 20 announced a partnership that will provide patients with expanded access to specialty care.

According to a news release, the partnership will "elevate care for local communities" in northeastern and central Wisconsin, creating an "integrated connection to pre- and post-care near home."

As part of the partnership, the Froedtert & MCW health network will provide progressive medical care to ThedaCare patients for unique specialty services such as heart and lung transplants and advanced heart failure, with ThedaCare providing care locally before and after.

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Patients may begin experiencing coordinated care from ThedaCare and the Froedtert & the MCW health network by the end of 2022.

Increasing need for advanced care, organ transplants

In 2021, the news release said, more than 41,000 organ transplants were performed in the U.S., an increase of 5.9% over 2020, according to preliminary data from United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). According to UNOS, in 2021, organizations and transplant hospitals performed a record 3,817 heart transplants across the country.

The demand for advanced care continues to grow as 2021 is also the tenth consecutive year of heart transplant numbers setting a new record, the news release said. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, making up nearly 25% of all cancer deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

According to the American Lung Association, centers that perform lung transplants are located throughout the country, however many people in need of a transplant live a great distance from those locations.

Through this partnership, transplants can be performed in Froedtert & MCW health network facilities, with the patient returning home for coordinated follow up and supportive care by ThedaCare. Before and following a transplant, patients will have access to providers in their nearby communities to continue coordinated long-term care to maintain their recovery.

"This partner will enable improved outcomes for the most complex patients cared for by our health systems," said Dr. Joseph Kerschner, dean of the MCW School of Medicine, in the news release. "For example, when a call comes in that an organ has been procured for transplant, the teams must work quickly – often within just a few hours – to provide the best possible outcomes for the patient. Our new partnership will ensure this seamless care for patients throughout the region."

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"The seamless transfer of care between our organizations can truly help patients and families in our region," said Dr. Imran Andrabi, ThedaCare president and CEO, said in the news release. "Collaborative care will already be in place, before a person’s transplant, and through follow up and ongoing care, close to home, with identified providers from organizations continuing to support the patient’s health and well-being."

The Froedtert & MCW health network will also provide virtual critical care in coordination with ThedaCare providers as part of the partnership. There will be an opportunity to add more specialty services over time based on community need, the news release said.

This partnership will also further ThedaCare’s development of a graduate medical education program, which will enhance patient access to medical and specialty services, the news release said, and help strengthen the future of health care in northeastern and central Wisconsin.

Physicians will play key leadership roles in this partnership, the news release said; it will be governed by a committee comprised of physicians and leaders from the three organizations.