MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) is fighting to keep Next Door Pediatrics open after Children’s Wisconsin announced its plans to close the clinic.

What You Need To Know

  • Children's Wisconsin announced it would close Next Door Pediatrics on Dec. 8 because of a lack of space

  • Supporters of the clinic said it has been a vital resource for the area

  • MICAH held a rally to keep Next Door Pediatrics open

  • MICAH plans to hold another rally on Dec. 1 at Children’s Wisconsin in Wauwatosa

MICAH held a small rally in front of the clinic on Tuesday morning.

Deanna Branch said she was there because of how vital the clinic has been for her three children.

“[One of them] he’s been here since he was two. He’s 10 now,” said Branch. “His lead level went down from 50 to 6.5 and it’s all through this clinic.”

Branch said she was shocked to hear the clinic was going to be closed on Dec. 8.

She said she believes forcing families to go to other clinics further away will make care access a lot more difficult.

“Just a lot of running around,” said Branch. “There’s about to be snow. It’s going to be a disadvantage. I can’t drive, so all of this [is] Uber money. Uber prices are going to go up when the weather gets colder and the snow is going to be hard so I just don’t understand them making it difficult for me to get proper, adequate health care for my children, that I desperately need for my children.”

Diannia Merriette is the health equity organizer with MICAH. She said the group met with Children’s Wisconsin reps on Friday to try to keep the clinic open.

Merriett explained the hospital told them the closure is due to lack of space.

“This building is still going to be here,” said Merriett. “They have a lease through 2030, so why have an empty building when we need this health care clinic open for people like Deanna and other families?”

MICAH president, Richard Shaw said he believes closing Next Door Pediatrics goes against Children’s Wisconsin’s mission.

“We are challenging Children’s of Wisconsin to hold to their mantra, their theme of making health care available to all children and when we do this, we are really not considering those who would be impacted,” said Shaw.

Branch said she feels that Next Door Pediatrics has already established a closely knit community that cares for each other.

“There’s no reason to put a health care barrier on a community that is already struggling with other things, other resources,” said Branch. “I don’t understand. I just feel bad for my community and I have to stand up for the community because no one else will.”

That’s why Branch and others at the rally said they will continue to fight for Next Door Pediatrics. She said they won’t give up, even if Children’s Wisconsin follows through with closing the clinic.

MICHAH plans to hold another rally on Dec. 1 at Children’s Wisconsin in Wauwatosa to keep Next Door Pediatrics open.

(Spectrum News 1/Phillip Boudreaux)

Children’s Wisconsin issued a statement on the upcoming closure:

“At Children’s Wisconsin, we are steadfast in our commitment to provide high-quality care and support for all kids and families in our community. That includes more than 76,500 Milwaukee kids we serve every year through both clinical and community-based services. After carefully reviewing our offerings at the Next Door Pediatrics clinic and the needs of our patients, we have determined the space and size constraints at Next Door Pediatrics do not allow us to consistently deliver the services our patients require. While pediatric primary care services are being transferred to our other clinics in Milwaukee, the dental clinic at Next Door will remain. We currently are working with patient families to assist in the transfer of their care to our other Children’s Wisconsin Primary Care locations, including our Midtown Pediatrics, Good Hope Pediatrics or River Glen Pediatrics locations, as well as to determine solutions regarding concerns such as access to transportation to the family’s new clinic of choice.

“This was a difficult decision, and not one we took lightly. We are grateful for the community support for the Next Door Pediatrics clinic and we will continue to work with the community, local leaders and organizations, such as the Coalition on Lead Emergency (COLE) to determine the next use of this space to support kids and families. This is in addition to our ongoing work with COLE and others to make sure all kids at risk of lead exposure in Milwaukee, especially kids under the age of 3, are tested.

“In no way was this a financial decision. Well over 50 percent of our patients every year receive some form of Medicaid coverage and we are long-time advocates for keeping Medicaid and BadgerCare strong for Wisconsin families. In addition, we are continuing the lease on the clinic, all our providers and staff have chosen to stay with Children’s Wisconsin, and we hope every patient’s family stays as well.”