St. Francis Hospital brought babies into this world for decades and decades. Cruelly, however, Ascension chose to close the only labor and delivery unit on the southside of Milwaukee when it abruptly closed the service at St. Francis Hospital only days before Christmas. St. Francis is also the only unionized private sector hospital in the city.
The southside of Milwaukee is home to a significant immigrant, Latinx, and working class population who rely on the accessibility of the hospital for many needs. Pregnant women and families must now travel outside of their communities to deliver their children.
Despite its nearly $18 billion in cash reserves, Ascension has systematically divested from Ascension St. Francis, much in the same way the New York Times uncovered, finding “executives boasted to their peers about how they had slashed $500 million from the chain’s labor costs. In the years before the pandemic, they routinely refused requests to hire more medical workers or fill open jobs.”
What has that meant at our hospital? Half the total number of people work at St. Francis now as compared to when Ascension took over in 2017. When the pandemic hit, there were over 600 helping hands that should have been providing care to our community when we needed it most.
Over that same time, St. Francis Hospital sent over $135 million to Ascension for “management fees” – money that could have stayed in our community and kept doctors and nurses at the bedside where mothers and families needed them.
Milwaukee is a city with some of the most shameful racial health disparities and is one of the most segregated cities in the country. Scaling back and then removing services from the southside will deepen health disparities.
Together, we can stop this cut and create the kind of hospital our families deserve. Stand with nurses and healthcare workers, patients and families, and add your name to our petition!
Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, Local 5000 AFT, AFL-CIO and the St. Francis Hospital Union Leaders