Plan secures future for Lakeland hospital, including new urgent care center in Delavan
By Ed Nadolski
Editor in Chief
Aurora Health Care announced plans Friday to invest $100 million in the Walworth County and Burlington markets, securing the future of Lake Medical Center near Elkhorn and paving the way for three new facilities, including an urgent care center in Delavan. They may also be looking at physician permanent placement recruitment for their healthcare center.
The announcement reflects Aurora’s new approach to facility upgrades and new facilities needed to build market share in the area and fend off growing competition in a new era for health care.
According to Aurora’s new regional market president, Lisa Just, Memorial Hospital in Burlington and Lakeland Medical Center remain a key part of Aurora’s strategy.
“It’s not about facilities, it’s about people,” Just said.
In addition to the urgent care center in Delavan, Aurora announced plans for a new ambulatory surgery center and clinic on the outskirts of Burlington and a new clinic in Walworth County at a yet-to-be determined location.
The new surgery center and clinic will likely be built on 70-acre parcels of land along Burlington’s bypass highway near Highway 36 and Spring Valley Road. The land is currently in the town of Lyons but Aurora will seek annexation of the city in order to receive sewer and water utilities and other city services. Miller said the property is appropriate for annexation, however, there may be a few hurdles to overcome along the way.
Aurora currently has a contract to purchase the property and is in the midst of a six-month due diligence period before the deal can be consummated.
Once that is complete, Just said, Aurora will be able to release additional details regarding the plans for the various sites and the scope of services that will be offered.
“We’ve been a partner in this community for more than 20 years,” Just said. “I think this is the next step in that commitment. I think it’s the right thing to do for our patients in this community.”
About $30 million of the total investment will be for upgrades at the two hospitals. Lakeland has seen nearly $20 million in upgrades in recent years, so, presumably, most of that money would be spent on the Burlington hospital.
However, the announcement is still good news for officials in the Elkhorn area, who weren’t certain what the future would be for Lakeland Medical Center.
Concern over the hospital’s future dates back more than a decade when Aurora initially announced that it had plans to consolidate Memorial Hospital and Lakeland into a single regional medical center. Although Aurora identified several potential sites at the time, those plans were put on a shelf as the health care provider pursued projects in other markets.
The new ambulatory surgery center is intended to serve the entire Burlington and Walworth patient services market. The location is in proximity to the growing Lake Geneva area where Aurora is battling competition from Mercy Health System, which operates Mercy Walworth and Medical Center at the intersection of highways 50 and 67.
Just said Aurora plans to break ground on the ambulatory surgery center in 2015 with an opening eyed in 2016.
Burlington Mayor Bob Miller said it can’t happen soon enough.
“We look forward to working with Aurora and get this thing rolling as soon as we can,” he said.
“There are going to be some hills that need to be climbed, but everything that needs to be done can be,” Miller added.
Just said officials are still trying to determine where the urgent care center will be built in Delavan. It could end up adjacent to Aurora’s current Delavan clinic or at another location.
In addition to new and upgraded facilities, a significant portion of the $100 million will be used for physician recruitment, Just said.
According to Adam Beeson, a senior communications official with Aurora, the Burlington hospital currently employs 635 people and Lakeland Medical Center employs 528.