The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has voted to pursue a merger between the county's John L. Doyne Hospital and neighboring Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital.
The deal would create a single parent corporation with a nongovernmental board to manage both hospitals, according to Jim King, a Froedtert spokesman.
Supervisor Lee Holloway, chairman of the county board's health committee, said Doyne and Froedtert will take immediate steps to combine primary-care services, billing, patient records and pharmacies.
Mr. Holloway said the Oct. 13 resolution was meant to "show some leadership" by the board of supervisors, which governs the county hospital. Doyne and Froedtert have been studying models for a possible agreement for more than six months.
The hospitals are on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus in Wauwatosa, about six miles west of downtown Milwaukee. Froedtert is a private, not-for-profit facility with 234 beds. Doyne has 445 beds. Both are teaching affiliates of the Medical College of Wisconsin, which is also on the campus.
Advocates say a merger would make Doyne more competitive and lessen the influence of politics on its operations.
The hospital, which has no tax levy to support it, has $300 million in outstanding bonds and a projected 1994 deficit of more than $18 million. Administrator Terrence Hansen, a former administrator at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, resigned from Doyne Sept. 27 after less than nine months on the job. He was under pressure from county officials, according to local press reports.
The departure came after a revelation that the hospital hadn't collected millions of dollars from a plan to fund indigent care. Mr. Hansen was replaced at Doyne by the county's human services director, Thomas Brophy.
Froedtert and Doyne share a trauma center and ambulatory-care clinic. Doyne takes cardiology and oncology cases, while Froedtert specializes in neuroscience. Each handles different types of organ transplants, Froedtert's Mr. King said. Areas of duplication are general surgery and general medicine, he said.
Doyne carries a heavy indigent load, including trauma and neonatal cases.
"The general agreement among everybody is that the county hospital needs to be tucked into a system with a broader patient base," said Marvin Neely Jr., president of the Hospital Council of Greater Milwaukee.