North Central Health Care Is — Quite Literally — Building the Future of Mental & Behavioral Health, Aquatic Therapy, & Skilled Nursing Care in Central Wisconsin

Written by Jessica Meadows

Recently, the North Central Health Care (NCHC) Wausau Campus saw the beginning of the $73 million campus renovation project that will redesign the future of mental and behavioral health, aquatic therapy, and skilled nursing care in Central Wisconsin.

On August 5, NCHC and Marathon County Government held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction and to recognize partners, funders, volunteers, and close to 600 individual donors who made the Aquatic Therapy Pool Capital Campaign successful.

Groundbreaking Ceremony at NCHC Wausau Campus with representation from NCHC, Marathon County Government, and Warm Water Works.(LEFT TO RIGHT): Michael Lotter – Marathon County Facilities & Capital Management, Kurt Gibbs – Marathon County Board, Lance Leonard – Marathon County Administration, Jim Tibbetts – Angus Young, Troy Torgerson – Marathon County Facilities & Capital Management, Brenda Budnik – NCHC Aquatic Services, Steve Anderson, Michael Loy – NCHC, Mary Ann Dykes – Warm Water Works, Jeff Zriny – NCHC Board and Marathon County Board, Brad Karger – Marathon County Administration. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)
NCHC-Groundbreaking-Warm Water Works
Warm Water Works, a grass roots community group, organized to help raise over $3 million for the construction of the warm water therapy pool at NCHC. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)
NCHC-Groundbreaking-Ceremony-Aquatic Therapy Pool site
Groundbreaking ceremony on August 5, 2019, at the site of the new North Central Health Care Aquatic Therapy Pool. Michael Loy – NCHC, Jim Tibbetts – Angus Young, Brenda Budnik – NCHC Aquatic Services, Troy Torgerson – Marathon County Facilities & Capital Management. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

The initial site work on the $6 million Aquatic Therapy Pool began with construction and safety fence installation, tree clearing, and other preparations. Miron Construction is the selected contractor that will be working on the Aquatic Therapy Pool.

NCHC-Construction Site for Aquatic Therapy Pool
Construction site preparations began in August for the site of the new warm water therapy pool. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

It won’t be long before you’ll start to see the new pool take shape at the front of the campus. In the next phase of the project, Marathon County Facilities & Capital Management will be accepting bids for the Youth Hospital and the Crisis Community-Based Residential Facility. All 3 of these buildings will be up and running in the first half of 2020.

For construction updates, links, and feedback information, please visit the NCHC website at

While the public may see a lot of the physical changes to the outside of our campus, it’s the changes taking place within NCHC itself that have been the talk of our residents, patients, and staff . . .

Resident Transitions at NCHC Allow for Construction of 4-Story Skilled Nursing Tower

At the end of August, NCHC will be initiating a large number of resident transitions in Mount View Care Center to prepare for the construction of the new skilled nursing tower scheduled to begin late this fall. There will be a lot of activity over the next 3 to 4 months as NCHC staff prepare to get all of Phase 1 of the campus renovations up and running. Residents and clients will be vacating Evergreen Place and Lakeside Recovery wings to make way for the new 4-story skilled nursing tower.

Pine Crest Nursing Home in Merrill to Be Managed by NCHC

Discussions on a long-term management agreement between North Central Health Care and Lincoln County’s Pine Crest Nursing Home in Merrill concluded with the Lincoln County Board voting on August 20, 2019, to approve NCHC’s management of the 180-bed skilled nursing facility. The Lincoln County Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, and their Administrative & Legislative Committee all weighed in on the transfer and unanimously supported it.

Over the next few months, NCHC will be busy onboarding nearly 200 new employees and preparing to take over operations of Pine Crest Nursing Home in Merrill — effective January 1, 2020.

NCHC-Pine Crest Nursing Home
Beginning in 2020, Pine Crest Nursing Home in Merrill will be managed long-term by North Central Health Care. (Photo courtesy of Pine Crest Nursing Home.)

North Central Health Care is a tri-county organization made up of a partnership between Marathon, Langlade, and Lincoln Counties. This management change means that NCHC will now be operating 2 of the largest County-owned skilled nursing facilities in the state of Wisconsin.

Lincoln County’s Developmental Disability Services to Be Provided by NCHC

On June 18, 2019, the Lincoln County Board passed a resolution to appoint NCHC as the provider of Adult Day, Prevocational, and Supported Employment Services to adults with developmental disabilities in Lincoln County that were formerly managed by Lincoln Industries. Lincoln Industries, a program of Lincoln County, has facilities in Merrill and Tomahawk and currently provides social, educational, and work skills training to adults with developmental and physical disabilities.

NCHC - Adult Day Services client
A client in Adult Day Services uses a computer-aided training to learn about various topics. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

Earlier in 2019, Lincoln County Social Services requested an assessment from NCHC of the current services at Lincoln Industries, along with any recommendations to enhance services, expand community work opportunities, and improve financial stabilization. Following NCHC’s assessment, the Lincoln County Social Services Committee recommended a transfer of services to NCHC, who currently provides developmental disabilities programs for adults in both Marathon and Langlade Counties. The Lincoln County Board voted in favor of the transfer of services to NCHC.

Working closely with families, community partner agencies, Lincoln County Social Services, and the Lincoln Industries staff, NCHC will work collaboratively to transition management throughout the course of 2019. Current employees of Lincoln Industries will transfer their employment to NCHC as part of the transition.

NCHC’s Birth to 3 Program Transitions to Marathon County Special Education

In 1991, the State of Wisconsin implemented a statewide Birth to 3 Program by delegating the responsibility to provide these services to the counties. The County Boards of Marathon, Lincoln, and Langlade Counties designated North Central Health Care as the agency to provide services of the Birth to 3 Program. The work of Birth to 3 is not only required, but essential to the health and well-being of our community. Research shows that work done in early childhood has positive impacts on the overall health of the individual in adulthood — especially in children with disabilities. As a program operated by North Central Health Care, Birth to 3 has brought countless families vital assistance and skill development for many years.

NCHC - Birth to 3
The Birth to 3 Program positively impacts the overall health of kids, especially in children with disabilities. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

On July 1, 2019, NCHC’s Birth to 3 Program transferred management of its program to Marathon County Special Education (MCSE).

MCSE brings a wealth of knowledge, staff support, and training opportunities that will benefit the staff and families of Birth to 3. This transition will ensure that Birth to 3 has opportunities and benefits far beyond what NCHC can currently provide and will set them up for even more success in the future. Patients in all 3 counties should have no discernible change in care, and there will be no disruption of services to families.

*  *  *

While many changes are happening all around North Central Health Care — both physically and operationally — one thing remains constant:

NCHC’s high-quality care and the dedication of its staff.

Teams have been created to ensure that the highest standards of care are maintained during transitions and that all of the patients, clients, and residents are well informed and taken care of.

Partnering with Marathon County Government, North Central Health Care is committed to Marathon County’s mission of making Marathon County and the surrounding area a preferred place to live, work, visit, and do business.

Together, we are building the future of mental and behavioral health,
aquatic therapy, and skilled nursing care in Central Wisconsin!

Jessica_MeadowsJessica Meadows

Communications & Marketing Director  |  North Central Health Care

As the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at North Central Health Care (NCHC), Jessica Meadows is passionate about being able to use her creative talents to connect people to healthcare, resources, and networking that will impact their life in a positive way. Prior to joining NCHC, she was a Creative Director and leader at a marketing agency in the Stevens Point area. With almost 20 years’ experience in print, web, social media, video, radio, and public relations, it was important for her to connect back to her roots here in the Wausau area, where she and her husband raise their two young children. When she’s not busy at an event or volunteering, she enjoys playing sports, coaching, biking, traveling, and exploring the outdoors.  Email Jessica Meadows.

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