MMC, Essentia celebrate collaborative effort to enhance healthcare

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Driving a lengthy distance for treatment while in the throes of cancer is difficult. But it’s a necessary evil for rural residents who don’t live near a hospital equipped to assist them.

Dan Hymans has firsthand knowledge. Four years ago while working as chief executive of Ashland Memorial Medical Center (MMC), he became a cancer patient.

“Dr. Mihailo Lalich became my doctor and Essentia Health became my cancer care center. I found out exactly what it was like to drive (from Ashland) to Duluth every day – one hour and 20 minutes,” each way, he said. “One day at 8:15 in the morning, I was already on the way back to Duluth after my treatment. I thought ‘This is nuts to be doing this so far away from Ashland.’ ”

Ironically, he was already in the midst of negotiating a relationship between MMC and Essentia to address the problem. After seven years of discussion, the project now is underway. Ground was broken Monday for a collaborative effort that will create the Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center. It is being constructed on an Ashland campus already shared by the two healthcare organizations. 

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