It’s been eight months since SSM Health broke ground on a new state-of-the-art clinic that will replace the one at 1313 Fish Hatchery Road. Damon Boatwright, regional president of SSM Health, told UMOJA Magazine that he expects the new clinic to boost community health on Madison’s South Side.

“By replacing this aging building with a new, modern clinical space we will be able to enhance our patients’ experience while delivering the exceptional health care they expect and deserve,” Boatwright said.

The five-story, 180,000-square foot clinic will be located on 10 acres just north of the clinic at 1313 Fish Hatchery Road. It will include a 246-stall parking lot located to the west of South Street and a 274-stall parking lot located east of South Street. The clinic is scheduled to open in the spring of 2022.

The clinic on Fish Hatchery Road is 60 years old and needs to be replaced, Boatwright said. The new clinic will house the following practices: family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, women’s health, physical and occupational therapy, and ear, nose and throat. 

Boatwright who joined SSM Health Care of Wisconsin as the regional president of hospital operations in 2014 and was promoted to regional president in 2017, said the company will spend $75 million on the clinic.

“We hope this investment will benefit the entire South Madison area through additional investment both on our campus and in the overall South Park Street and Fish Hatchery Road corridors,” Boatwright said. 

One way in which the new clinic will immediately benefit the community will be returning orthopedic and oncology centers to the South Side. Both centers were moved out of the Fish Hatchery clinic about 10 years ago to sites less convenient for patients who live on the South Side — the cancer center to Middleton and orthopedics center to a site on the Beltline near Todd Drive.

“We have long believed that we are able to better serve our patients’ and our community’s needs by building our multi-specialty clinics right in the neighborhoods they serve,” Boatwright said. “By replacing this clinic with a new building and expanded services we are renewing our commitment to community.” 

Additional services may be added to clinic later, Boatwright said. 

“We will continue to evaluate patient needs and clinical programming to ensure that we offer the best mix of services in South Madison.” 

The clinic is already benefitting trainees in the Foundations for the Trades Career Academy, a partnership between SSM Health and the Urban League of Greater Madison. Additionally, SSM Health is on track to exceed the 10% diversity goal it set for the project’s workforce and the goal it set for awarding 5% of project bids to minority-, women-, veteran- and disabled-owned contractors. 

Boatwright told UMOJA that working with the Urban League on the clinic project was a natural extension of the organizations’ partnership on health-career training programs. 

“Throughout our project, the Urban League has served as a valued partner in both connecting us with a more diverse workforce and advising us on how to provide valuable experiences to the South Madison community.” 

For Boatwright, completion of the clinic will mark a milestone on what he calls “a journey of health,” one that he says SSM Health and the community are making together. 

“Personally, this project has meant a great deal to me,” he said. “It has helped me to strengthen not only SSM Health’s relationships in South Madison — it’s helped me build and strengthen relationships with South Madison community members and community leaders. It’s allowed me to extend and deepen our commitment to the community, walking in our founding leaders’ footsteps.” 

Boatwright said he regards the clinic as a spiritual investment as much as a financial one. 

“I truly believe that it is part of not only my legacy, but the legacy of SSM Health to do our part in improving the communities we serve by truly investing in the neighborhoods where we deliver care. I know that through the South Madison Campus project we are not only revealing the healing presence of God through our healthcare services, we are building a stronger Madison together.”  

SSM Health owns seven hospitals and 85 clinics in Wisconsin and northern Illinois and employs 14,000 people in the region. The company also owns hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in Missouri and Oklahoma.  

Editor’s note: Shortly before this article went to press, Boatwright announced he is leaving SSM to become president and CEO of Hospital Sisters Health System, based in Springfield, Illinois. There, he will lead the system’s nearly 2,300 physician partners and more than 13,000 associate staff in Illinois and Wisconsin. His last day at SSM is May 15.