Northstar Health System joins Aspirus

IRON RIVER – Northstar Health System leaders announced to employees and medical staff on Tuesday that they have signed letters of intent to affiliate with the Aspirus health system, headquartered in Wausau, Wis.

Leaders expect to finalize the transaction by Jan. 31, officials said in a news release.

Aspirus has offered to retain the positions of all staff members at their current pay and benefits rates.

Based in Iron River, Northstar includes a 25-bed critical access hospital; clinics in Iron River, Marenisco and Crystal Falls; and award winning home health and hospice services. With more than 300 employees and an active, courtesy and consulting credentialed medical staff of more than 70, Northstar serves Iron County and surrounding communities.

“We believe Northstar will be a tremendous addition to the Aspirus family,” said Matthew Heywood, president and chief executive officer of Aspirus Inc. “This affiliation will increase our ability to serve the western Upper Peninsula by collaborating and sharing resources with our other regional partners.”

Northstar is Aspirus’ fourth hospital partner in the Upper Peninsula. Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital in Ontonagon, joined Aspirus in November 2007; Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium joined in July 2008; and Aspirus Grand View Hospital in Ironwood, joined in October 2010.

Chuck Nelson, U.P. regional chief executive officer for Aspirus, looks forward to the addition.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the Northstar team to coordinate care across our region,” he said.

Joining an affiliated group will allow Northstar to access new resources, share best practices and realize business efficiencies, officials said.

That collaboration will be vital in the system’s efforts to constantly improve quality and efficiency, and to thrive in an industry that presents challenging workforce and regulatory issues, officials said.

“This decision has come following an extensive due diligence process,” said Connie Koutouzos, chief executive officer of Northstar Health System. “We are confident that this affiliation will secure our future in providing quality health care to our community as well as allow us to expand and improve services with the support Aspirus can provide.”