September 28, 2023

🔒 The Interview: Cathy Jacobson

Cathy Jacobson
President and chief govt officer
Froedtert Well being
9200 W. Wisconsin Ave., Wauwatosa
Staff: 17,000

In April, Wauwatosa-based Froedtert Well being and Neenah-based ThedaCare introduced plans to merge into one well being system. After the merger is full, Cathy Jacobson, Froedtert’s president and chief govt officer, will initially assume the position of CEO whereas Dr. Imran Andrabi, ThedaCare president and CEO, will function president. After a six-month transition interval, Jacobson will retire from the group after greater than a decade on the helm. BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Ashley Sensible not too long ago spoke with Jacobson concerning the deal and her forthcoming retirement. The next parts of their dialog are edited for size and readability. 

How does this merger make sense for each organizations?

“It was October of 2022 after we introduced our quaternary settlement with ThedaCare after which our three way partnership improvement in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. At the moment, we’d been assembly with ThedaCare for over a 12 months simply when it comes to alternatives, and we labored on these concepts. As we obtained an opportunity to know one another via these conversations, what we acknowledged was that our conversations had been very straightforward when it comes to having the ability to come to an settlement as a result of we had been aligned on so many ideas. It wasn’t nearly educational drugs, which is extremely vital, or it wasn’t nearly growth. What we actually aligned round was, primary, a joint imaginative and prescient for a way we expect well being care wants to vary.” 

What does remodeling well being care imply to each organizations?

“I feel at first, it’s recognition that well being care doesn’t work for most individuals as we speak. What I imply by that’s you might have entry to well being care, however perhaps it’s important to wait too lengthy for an appointment, or it’s too clunky so that you can schedule, otherwise you don’t perceive easy methods to navigate the system. So, perhaps when you get in, you get nice care however the experiences and the handoffs and the communication and all these sorts of issues are usually not the place they should be. Remodeling means recognizing what we do as we speak isn’t what folks need it to be and never what it must be. Then, once you’re in that mindset, you’re instantly pondering of these issues that we have to problem.”

How does this merger profit the extra rural communities served by ThedaCare?

“You possibly can’t ship well being care in a rural setting the identical approach that you simply do in Appleton or Milwaukee as a result of there simply isn’t the identical entry to brick and mortar areas. Individuals are on a special schedule, their lives revolve round various things than folks within the metropolis, so at first it’s about listening to the neighborhood and the way well being care has labored for them after which asking what instruments we are able to carry. Is it digital well being? Effectively, we all know there’s broadband points nonetheless in a few of our rural areas. How will we assist carry that to them? How will we join them to one of the best of educational drugs?”

Is that this actually a merger, or is it an acquisition?

“My authorized counsel would inform you it’s neither. That’s the reason we’re truly calling it a mixture. In not-for-profit well being care, you actually can take two organizations and simply put them collectively. And that’s precisely what we’re doing right here. There’s no cash exchanged, we’re simply taking the entire assets of ThedaCare, all of the assets of Froedtert Well being and placing them collectively right into a mixed group. Actually, what that tells you about how the group might be run sooner or later is the governance assertion that we put out on the board, which might be composed of representatives of each organizations.”

How did you make the choice to retire following the merger?

“I’m not retiring for 15 months. There’s a protracted trajectory but. It’s in all probability one other 9 months till we shut the transaction. We’re nonetheless Froedtert Well being and ThedaCare, and we have now to proceed to do the identical issues we do day-after-day. As soon as we’re mixed, there might be a six-month transition interval the place we are able to carry the organizations collectively and I’ll depart. 

“My resolution on this has been constructing. Most individuals who know me know that I’ve by no means had the intent to work all the best way to 65. I’m concerned in quite a few various things, well being care and non-health care associated on a nationwide stage, and I needed to do one thing else ultimately. While you be ok with how one can hand off your group and also you meet a pacesetter who’s aligned along with your imaginative and prescient, you form of marry the 2 issues up collectively. To be clear, I’m 60, so it’s not that far off from my authentic long-term pondering. It’s only a pure transition.”

Are you able to share extra particulars in your post-retirement plans?

“I’m on a few completely different boards already, and I’ve to try this in my spare time on high of my regular job. I need to keep on these boards and perhaps take a look at another alternatives as nicely – nothing past what I’m doing already. I need to do this and spend some extra time with my household.”

Will Froedtert and ThedaCare pursue different acquisitions sooner or later?

“I actually can’t say proper now. We’ve obtained to remain targeted on the one deal we have now proper now. I’ll inform you we expect we’re creating one thing distinctive within the state when it comes to being Wisconsin based mostly and Wisconsin led, and we hope as soon as we get it put collectively that it’s one thing that pulls companions who need to be part of us and the work we’re doing. We’re constructing one thing for the longer term that we hope others will see as enticing.”

Are there any worries about getting regulatory approval?

“I’d say we’re in an surroundings the place well being care mixtures are actually scrutinized, and we simply need to be terribly respectful of that. On the similar time, we expect we’re bringing two well being methods collectively that don’t actually overlap. The one sharing of sufferers we have now are the sufferers that get referred out of ThedaCare’s geography to come back down and entry advanced care they’ll’t usually get. We predict that’s truly the energy of our merger. We’re optimistic and suppose we’re doing this for the suitable causes.”

When had been staff notified of the merger?

“We began telling everybody very first thing (the morning of April 11). We began telling our groups in all probability about an hour earlier than the press convention. We had been very cautious with our messages as a result of at first, we want all of our workers to come back care for sufferers each single day. That’s what we would like them targeted on proper now. The messages had been nothing’s altering, even after we come collectively and mix.”

Any particulars you may share concerning the firm’s new title and headquarters?

“I can inform you for positive the headquarters might be in Wisconsin. That’s fairly frankly changing into extra distinctive amongst well being care methods. We actually, actually haven’t talked about plans past that. By way of the title, we determined each names will dwell on.”