RICE LAKE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Marshfield Clinic Health System recently announced hundreds of layoffs, and with it comes the closure of a pediatric clinic that provides care for children with special needs.
That clinic is the Marshfield Children’s Pediatric Therapy Clubhouse in Rice Lake, and operations there are set to end in May.
Parents spoke to WEAU and said the impacts of the clinic closing are too great to ignore.
Among the parents includes Danielle Motzer, who has 4 kids getting treatment at the clinic. She and other parents were surprised when they heard just the other day the clinic would close.
“And lo and behold after May their speech therapies were gone.We actually talked about summer appointments in the last couple of weeks,” said Motzer.
A concern the parents have for their kids is the regression they may experience when the services are no longer offered, and later on when they go on the search for another clinic that offers the services their kids need.
“If we stop the therapy that he’s been getting, he could revert back to not speaking at all,” said Motzer.
The Vice President of Medical Affairs at Marshfield Medical Center Rice Lake and Ladysmith said the decision to close the clinic was hard and serves as a stark reality check about rural medicine.
“Those soaring costs have led us to be required to make difficult decisions about how we prioritize the finite and limited resources we have,” said Dr. Brandon Pakrhurst.
Parents said they were told locations in Marshfield, WI and Duluth, MN are their two options to continue seeking care for their kids.
“That’s not a solution for others who don’t have the ability to drive that far,” said Motzer.
Jennifer Ruff, who recently relocated to Rice Lake so her children could receive services at the clinic, said the extra time on the commute could be even harder on the kids.
“I mean, for some of these children it’s traumatic being in a car ride for that long,” said Ruff.
However, Dr. Parkhurst said the Marshfield Clinic Health System will soon provide more options for care.
“We’ve actually compiled a list of nine locations in Northwest Wisconsin that can provide, what we believe, is similar comprehensive care,” said Dr. Parkhurst.
Another concern is how this could impact everyone in the child’s life if they don’t get the therapy they require.
“Mental health alone, we need to be aware of the fact that this is not only going to affect the patients, but their entire family. And as always, there’s not enough help to go around when it comes to children with special needs,” said Ruff.
Dr. Parkhurst said he understand parents’ worries.
“To parents and family that have been impacted by this decision, the first thing that I would say is, I’m sorry,” said Dr. Parkhurst.
But parents said that alone is not enough to resolve what they are going to endure after the clinic closes. And Ruff said this could potentially mean a lot of parents being impacted.
“I believe its something like 8 or 7 counties are being serviced by this one pediatric therapy clubhouse. It cannot be replaced.”
Parents said they recognize there are other options but said the biggest issue is those options do not offer all the therapies their kids will need.
They also said navigating health insurance and other obstacles will come with getting their kids transferred to new facilities.