Tell Ascension CEO Bernie Sherry: Save St. Francis L&D! Keep labor and delivery on the southside!

Ascension Wisconsin CEO, Bernie Sherry

St. Francis Hospital brought babies into this world for decades and decades. Cruelly, however, Ascension chose to close the only labor and delivery unit on the southside of Milwaukee when it abruptly closed the service at St. Francis Hospital only days before Christmas. St. Francis is also the only unionized private sector hospital in the city.  

The southside of Milwaukee is home to a significant immigrant, Latinx, and working class population who rely on the accessibility of the hospital for many needs. Pregnant women and families must now travel outside of their communities to deliver their children.

Despite its nearly $18 billion in cash reserves, Ascension has systematically divested from Ascension St. Francis, much in the same way the New York Times uncovered, finding “executives boasted to their peers about how they had slashed $500 million from the chain’s labor costs. In the years before the pandemic, they routinely refused requests to hire more medical workers or fill open jobs.”

What has that meant at our hospital? Half the total number of people work at St. Francis now as compared to when Ascension took over in 2017. When the pandemic hit, there were over 600 helping hands that should have been providing care to our community when we needed it most.

Over that same time, St. Francis Hospital sent over $135 million to Ascension for “management fees” – money that could have stayed in our community and kept doctors and nurses at the bedside where mothers and families needed them.

Milwaukee is a city with some of the most shameful racial health disparities and is one of the most segregated cities in the country. Scaling back and then removing services from the southside will deepen health disparities.

Together, we can stop this cut and create the kind of hospital our families deserve. Stand with nurses and healthcare workers, patients and families, and add your name!

Thank you,

Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, Local 5000, AFT, AFL-CIO and our St. Francis Hospital Union Leaders

To: Ascension Wisconsin CEO, Bernie Sherry
From: [Your Name]

How dare you close the only labor and delivery unit on the southside of Milwaukee just days before Christmas. We demand Ascension invest its billions of dollars into our southside community and restore this vital service, with full funding, 24/7 access, and safe staffing.

Milwaukee has some of the worst racial and geographical health disparities in our country. This problem is so pressing, Ascension has publicly stated its intention to reduce those disparities. However, cutting this vital service on the southside will have a disproportionate impact on working class, Latinx, disabled, and immigrant communities who rely on the hospital, reinforcing and deepening these shameful inequities.

We demand Ascension bring to bear its immense wealth to improve our community’s health, restore these vital services, and listen to your organized workers and the community they serve.