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A team of employees at Gundersen St. Joseph's.

About Us

History

1911
First hospital is established in few rooms of the Novy Building in "downtown" Hillsboro by P.H. Hansberry, M.D., who practices there with his brother from Wonewoc.

1915
When need for a larger hospital becomes evident, Hansberry purchases a large home on South Water at High Street, the Hansberry Hospital we have seen in pictures (picture in St. Joseph's cafeteria).

1916
Clara A. Schute, a recent graduate of St. Francis School of Nursing in La Crosse, becomes the hospital Superintendent

1925
A new addition is added to the Hansberry Hospital, including a new operating room, several patients' rooms and an Administrator's office.

1946
More rooms, a new office and a new reception hall are added to the Hansberry Hospital.

1947
Dr. Hansberry dies at age 70 and Clara Schute acquires ownership of the Hansberry Hospital. Reverend Father D.J. Smetana, pastor of St. Aloysius and John A. Cesnik, a Hillsboro businessman, begin efforts to induce an organization to take on the operation of a more modern, larger hospital.

1949
Father Smetana and John Cesnik confer with the Franciscan Sisters of Rice Lake. Mother M. Alphonse, Mother General of the order and superintendent of Rice Lake's hospital, comes to Hillsboro to inspect the Hansberry Hospital. On July 2nd, the hospital is purchased and is renamed St. Joseph's.

1950
Chaired by John Cesnik, an advisory committee is formed to promote construction of a new hospital. A fund drive is initiated and directed by Thomas H. Sweeney to raise $125,000 by popular subscription. Members of the fund advisory committee are John A. Cesnik, general chairman; R. E. Quinn, Nick Rockweiler; Lyle H. Hart, E. V. Hofmeister, Edwin W. Shear, Father Frank Lestinsky, and W. E. Wolters.

1951
The federal government approves the project and grants $125,000. Other funds include: Vernon County $50,000; local pledges $125,000; and a loan of $175,000 from the La Crosse Catholic Diocese through the Rice Lake Sisters.

1952
On July 27th the cornerstone is laid (PAX ET BONUM: "Peace and Goodness," motto of Rice Lake Sisters).

1953
New hospital is dedicated on March 19th. Dedication plaque reads: "This hospital is dedicated to the memory of those men and women who served and died for their country in times of war to preserve democracy for our nation, and it pledges the care of the sick, injured and aged, regardless of race, color or creed." The old Hansberry Hospital is remodeled as a home for the aged.

1956
Rice Lake Sisters withdraw from the hospital. Patient census has dropped to one. Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) of La Crosse agree to manage, operate and supervise St. Joseph's. Sister Mary Gregory (Floor Supervisor), Sister Jean Marie (Administrator/Anesthetist), Sister Josara (Lab Tech/X-Ray), and Sister Leone (Food Supervisor) comprise the original four FSPA Sisters assigned to St. Joseph's.

1957
October, FSPA assumed sponsorship and debts (of $152,000) of St. Joseph's.

1959
Modern, 20-bed nursing home addition is completed.

1970
First lay administrator, William Green, is hired. FSPA's continue in various departments until 2000.

1971
Nursing Home addition of 44 beds is completed.

1978
Remodeling and expansion project, begun in 1976, is completed with new facilities for laboratory, ambulance entrance, physical therapy, OB, surgery, Administrator's office and lobby.

1981
Remodeling of the wing formerly housing the sister's living quarters and the Hillsboro Family Health Clinic is completed. It provided facilities for cardiac rehabilitation, social and mental health services, natural family planning, community health resources center, personnel department and conference room.

1990
St. Joseph's Board of Directors signs a management contract with Lakewood Group, to provide a Chief Executive Officer as well as various other management services. The Lakewood Group is purchased by the BRIM companies in 1991.

1993
Addition for Rehab Services and a new surgical area are started. The "Cornerstone of Care Campaign" raises over $500,000 of this expansion money. This committee, co-chaired by Dr. Jeffrey and Barb Clark and the Hon. Wallace and Mary Brady, consists of members of St. Joseph’s Memorial Foundation and many volunteers throughout the surrounding area.

1995
Addition is completed. Remodeling of OB, X-Ray, Rehab Services, outpatient area, hospital and ER nurses' station, main lobby and a family waiting area are also completed.

1997
The Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) opens in July. In October, St. Joseph's Wellness Center opens in the house next door to offer alternative medicine to our community. In order to accommodate the needs for our community due to health insurance and managed care organizations, St. Joseph's hires John Jones, M.D., and starts its own clinic (located within the hospital) on Dec. 1.

1998
A second physician, Dr. Francis Joseph, is hired on July 6th to work in St. Joseph's Clinic. On July 9th the facility's name is changed from St. Joseph's Memorial Hospital and Home, Inc. to St. Joseph's Community health Services, Inc. On October 17th, St. Joseph's Clinic is dedicated in honor of Dr. Thomas Boston, a retired family physician of the community.

1999
On January 25th, Dr. John Jones retires. February 1st, Dr. Warren Williams is hired to work in St. Joseph's Clinic. The Behavioral Health Unit is closed. The Wellness Center becomes an independent practice by the acupuncturist, later the house is vacated. In August, a second clinic is opened in Elroy where Dr. Williams moved his practice. Bill Bruce assumes CEO position in November. Urgent Care becomes Convenient Care, extends its hours and is staffed by physicians through the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.

2000
Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation is received in February allowing for cost-based reimbursement for services rendered. Contract with BRIM Management Company is discontinued in August. Bill Bruce is hired directly by St. Joseph's as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Debbie Tietjen, Nurse Practitioner/Certified Nurse Midwife, begins working in St. Joseph's Clinic in September.

2001
Local hospital embraces the need to focus on the community and St. Joseph's Board of Directors authorizes the recruitment of physicians and the reopening of obstetrical services. Three family practitioners who do OB were added to the medical staff and a larger clinic was opened in Elroy.

2002
New outreach services implemented including cardiology. St. Joseph's Board of Directors continues planning for the future.

2005
St. Joseph's Community Health Services opens a clinic in Wonewoc.

2011
St. Joseph's Community Health Services begins the affiliation with Gundersen Lutheran, forming St. Joseph's Health Services - Gundersen Lutheran.

2013
The name of our organization was changed to Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics.

Gundersen Affiliation

What does this mean for me?

Gundersen Health System and St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics have joined forces to enhance the quality of care provided to our patients in Hillsboro, Wonewoc, Elroy and the surrounding communities. The affiliation allows us to offer a more efficient healthcare delivery system with seamless care for patients in the Hill Country region.

This is an exciting time for our patients, staff and community. You can continue to expect to receive the personal, high-quality care you counted on from your healthcare providers at Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to talk with any of our staff.

Why affiliate with Gundersen Health System?

As St. Joseph's sought a partner to help create a more efficient healthcare delivery system for our patients, one of the first that came to mind is Gundersen Health System. Gundersen Health System is a nationally recognized leader in healthcare that consistently ranks in the upper 5% of hospitals in the country. Adding their expertise to St. Joseph's allows us to continue to advance the care provided to patients.

For Gundersen Health System, enhancing the care in all of the communities they serve and creating a more efficient delivery system are part of their mission and ongoing plans for the future. Gundersen Health System believes it is important for people in smaller communities, like those in the Hill Country region, to be able to receive their primary and specialty care closer to home when it is possible and practical to do so.

Will Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics still accept my insurance?

Yes, Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics will continue to accept all of the insurances they currently accept. In fact, patients will be able to see any physician or associate staff (nurse practitioner or physician assistant) working at the Gundersen St. Joseph's Clinics. Any insurance that was covered before the affiliation is covered since the affiliation. After the transition, all patients' billing statements will come from the consolidated clinic operation, Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics.

Does this mean Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital will be able to build a new hospital?

In March 2016, Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital marks 63 years of service to patients and families in Hillsboro and surrounding communities. In addition to this milestone, staff and the community can also celebrate progress toward a goal to complement the quality care patients already receive: building a new hospital.

Gundersen St. Joseph's will release a request for proposal (RFP) in the coming weeks to hire a consultant or consultants to help plan, design and evaluate the scale and scope of the project. "Our current hospital was built with the best technology available in the 1950s, long before air conditioning, cable TV, computers and cell phones," says Jim Mlsna, chairman of the board, Gundersen St. Joseph Hospital and Clinics. "Almost all of those technologies have been retrofitted into an old building over the years. We need to increase our efficiencies and enhance the way we care for our patients. A new hospital would allow our staff to provide the best possible care, in a healing environment, close to home."

Convenient, high-quality care for rural patients was a goal in 2011 when what was St. Joseph's Health Services affiliated with Gundersen and eventually became Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics. This goal drives care today and the push for a new hospital. "Patient experience – including privacy and a healing environment – is so important for how we care for patients," says Deb Smith, chief executive officer, Gundersen St. Joseph Hospital and Clinics. "Similarly, our staff needs an efficient space to better-treat increasingly complex conditions. The RFP process moves us toward a better care environment and, ultimately, better care for the rural patients and communities we serve."

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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