July 15, 2008

Cornerstone Closes Onalaska Clinic

By Rindfleisch, Terry

ONALASKA, Wis. - Cornerstone Healthcare, which established the first free-standing urgent medical care center in the La Crosse area only three months ago, has closed. The urgent-care clinic, located in the Kwik Trip building at 1800 E. Main St. in Onalaska, featured full-time walk-in service and fast access to nurse practitioners or physician assistants for the public and employer-required medical care services.

John Harrington, Cornerstone Healthcare president, said the clinic closed Wednesday because the company didn't have the financing to support it.

"We had no money to keep it going," Harrington said. Its a sad day for health care in La Crosse. We were a new model of health care."

The clinic began offering full-time services in March, and recently, Cornerstone Healthcare was approved and contracted as a preferred provider for Franciscan Skemp's Health Tradition Health Plan and Mayo Medical Systems Inc.

"This is truly unfortunate, because we just got the contract with Health Tradition and things were looking up, but we couldn't take that last step to secure the financing we needed to keep the clinic going," Harrington said.

He said the company had suffered a financial setback starting 10 months ago when it lost the physician who was needed to supervise a clinic.

"By the time we found a new physician, we were behind financially, and we fell behind in our payments to Kwik trip," Harrington said. "Kwik Trip has been good to us, but even the greatest landlord can't keep subsidizing you."

Cornerstone Healthcare began in 2005 in Winona, Minn., with an urgent-care clinic and provided employer health services; the clinic there has since closed.

The company's headquarters moved to Onalaska in January 2007. The company began by offering employee services such as drug testing, physicals, worker's compensation case management, flu shots, hearing tests, OSHA compliance and workplace safety assistance.

Harrington said he is unsure about his company's future.

"We just have to see," he said. "We have to take a hard look at it."

Copyright La Crosse Tribune Jun 26, 2008

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