Aurora reinvests in Port with clinic expansion

Instead of operating two clinics near each other, health care provider is more than doubling the size of its east facility with $6.8 million project

AURORA HEALTH CARE is set to complete a $6.8 million expansion project at its east Port Washington clinic in January, which is part of a consolidation effort with its west clinic. Staff members stood outside the east clinic at 1475 W. Grand Ave. including (from left) site supervisor Crystal Binder, doctors Stephanie Maves, Christopher Eernisse, Mark Fitzsimmons, Scot Wilfong and Anna Kleyman and physician assistant Alesha Ewig. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
Joe Poirier
Ozaukee Press Staff

Aurora Health Care expects to complete a $6.8 million expansion project at its Port Washington east clinic by the start of next year in an effort to consolidate its two clinics in the city.

“In essence, we are more than doubling the size of the Port Washington east location,” John Mutschelknaus, Aurora’s senior vice president of clinic operations, said. “It didn’t make sense to operate two clinics that close to each other.

“They’re about a 3-wood away, if you’re a golfer.”

Work began in June at the east clinic at 1475 W. Grand Ave., which is expanding its footprint from 11,596 to 26,993 square feet.

Mutschelknaus said the expansion will bring additional services to Port Washington such as pharmacy and physical therapy rehabilitation.

“We haven’t had a pharmacy in Port Washington for a number of years, so this will definitely be a convenience factor,” he said.

The west clinic at 1777 W. Grand Ave. fell under Aurora’s umbrella in 2008 when Legacy Advanced Health Care joined Aurora.

Aurora initially planned to sell the west clinic but will retain the building and repurpose it to provide services not offered at the east clinic, Mutschelknaus said.

“One of the reasons we are consolidating is we don’t want to have another lab and X-ray next to each other again,” he said, adding the location could provide behavioral health services.

“It’s a growing component of health care these days, and we find it to be rapidly expanding,” he said.

Mutschelknaus also said the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton may transfer some general administrative services to the west clinic in Port.

The west clinic will be repurposed after work at the east clinic is complete.

“When they get into the renovations of the existing facility there might be some minor inconveniences, but it should be exciting. Hopefully people understand that we’re modernizing it with the intent to be there in the future,” Mutschelknaus said.

Aurora decided to expand the east clinic instead of the west clinic because it is slightly closer and easier to get to for most of the patients in the area, Mutschelknaus said.

The consolidation will also clear up confusion about which clinic patients are supposed to go to.                                                                                                    

Plans have been in the works for about five years after Aurora began securing capital funds for the $6.8 million expansion. Mutschelknaus said the project should be complete in January.

“There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle that had to fall into place before everything got approved,” he said. “It took awhile, but we’re really thrilled going forward the way it is.”

After the expansion is completed, minor updates will be made to 2,620 square feet of the existing clinic, including new carpeting, furniture and fixtures.

Aurora has about 10 full-time physicians at the east clinic who practice family and internal medicine, gynecology, ophthalmology, pediatrics and chiropractics. That number will increase with the expansion.

“There will be no job reduction. If anything, we will be bringing in more doctors and staff,” Mutschelknaus said. “Hopefully, there will be more physician growth as demand calls for it.”

Mutschelknaus said it is difficult to recruit and retain physicians outside of Milwaukee and Mequon, but Port Washington has become a destination for doctors.

“Port Washington is a great community. A number of physicians who have worked there have lived in the area for 30 or 40 years and have embedded themselves in the community,” he said. “It’s been a real success story with what Port Washington has done to make itself a destination. It’s a great place to live, and it’s really helped in our recruiting efforts.”

While Aurora Medical Center in Grafton is only about a 15-minute drive from Port Washington, Mutschelknaus said it is vital to provide critical services in the city.

“Even though the east clinic isn’t far from Grafton, where we have a lot of things going on, we understand the nature of travel, and it’s not always easy traveling when there’s snow and wind blowing,” he said. “It’s nice to have key health care services local. That’s our effort.”

Mutschelknaus said the expansion reflects Aurora’s continued commitment to Port.

“It’s a significant investment in the community that indicates that we’re there to stay,” he said. “We like Port Washington, and we want to be there to bring additional services to that community.”

“We’re really keen on Port Washington and that has really helped us get capital approval with Aurora. The community has always been supportive, and we have a strong working relationship with community leaders who have always been receptive.”     

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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