Ascension St. Joseph opens emergency department for pregnant women

September 10, 2020

Beginning this week, Ascension St. Joseph, 5000 W. Chambers St., Milwaukee, WI 53210, will become the first hospital in Milwaukee to offer a new 24-hour OB Emergency Department (OBED) dedicated to pregnant women. The four-bed OBED is staffed with seven board-certified OB/GYNs through the OB Hospitalist Group to provide care for pregnancy-related emergencies and to diagnose labor.

“This represents a significant investment in our hospital to provide an elevated standard of care for our patients and positively impact the lives of women, their babies and the families we are privileged to serve,” said Dr. Matthew Lee, Medical Director, Women and Families, Ascension Wisconsin.

The team of physicians’ goal is to improve patient care for moms-to-be and reduce wait times at one of the state’s busiest emergency departments.

“We care for women from throughout the area, and that includes many high-risk moms-to-be who face both physical and socioeconomic challenges,” said Kevin Kluesner, Chief Administrative Officer, Ascension St. Joseph. “We are dedicating time, energy, and resources to improve birth outcomes, reduce health disparities and improve maternal and infant health. The OBED is another step forward in this important work.”

Pregnancy emergencies can happen at any hour and can range from miscarriages or threat of a miscarriage, to elevated blood pressure or more serious issues that require immediate surgery. Conditions commonly treated in an OBED include:

• Abnormal vaginal bleeding
• Complications associated with high-risk pregnancy
• Decreased fetal movement
• Increased blood pressure
• Preterm labor
• Ruptured membranes

The OBED program does not replace a woman’s regular obstetrician; instead, it serves as an extension of the patient’s regular doctor. Hospitalists are physicians who specialize solely in caring for patients who are hospitalized, rather than those in a clinical or outpatient setting. OB hospitalists have additional training such as advanced fetal assessment and monitoring. In addition to handling deliveries, OB hospitalists assist with any issues and emergencies that may arise and provide several services including:

• Care in times of emergency prior to the arrival of a patient’s physician
• Support the care of high-risk pregnancy patients
• Deliver babies for patients who don’t have an obstetrician

Pregnant women in need of emergency care will continue to use the main ED entrance at Ascension St. Joseph off Burleigh Street and be escorted to the OBED located in the Labor and Delivery Unit.

About Ascension Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Ascension operates 24 hospital campuses, more than 100 related healthcare facilities and employs more than 1,300 primary and specialty care clinicians from Racine to Eagle River. Serving Wisconsin since 1848, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S., operating 2,600 sites of care – including 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Visit