IT'S HAPPENING: Board approves Gundersen St. Joseph's plan for new hospital
Plans to build a new hospital in Hillsboro just took a big step forward.
Gundersen Health System's Board of Trustees approved Monday Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics' plans to construct a new facility adjacent to the current hospital between Highway 80 and Field Veterans Memorial Lake in Hillsboro.
"This is a very exciting day at Gundersen St. Joseph's and for our region. For 65 years, patients have been receiving high quality care at our current facility which has served us well throughout the years. The building has seen many upgrades during its lifetime but is now beginning to show its age and coming to the end of its useful life," comments Danni Gearhart, CEO, Gundersen St. Joseph's. "The delivery of healthcare has changed dramatically since the 1950s. This facility was built at a time when patients would spend days or weeks in hospital recovering from surgeries that are now performed on a same-day basis. This new facility will be designed to leverage efficiencies in staffing, technology and our relationship with Gundersen Health System in La Crosse -- positioning St. Joseph's to better handle the changing landscape of healthcare. Despite the age of our building, our patients and community have shown great loyalty to our organization. We believe this is because of the caring and considerate nature of our staff and their incredible level of service. We look forward to enriching their lives for generations to come in a new state-of-the-art facility."
Gearhart says that while Board approval is a momentous occasion, there is still work to be done before shovels can hit the ground. "Our next phase includes finalizing our building plans and project funding," says Gearhart.
In February 2017, Gundersen St. Joseph's held a community focus group with assistance from HGA Architects to gather qualitative information about the needs of the community relating to the development of a new hospital. Attendees of the focus group represented the many communities served by Gundersen St. Joseph's, including Elroy, Wonewoc, Union Center, Kendall, La Valle and Hillsboro. The focus group aimed to highlight problem areas in the current facility, including accessibility and way-finding, privacy, security and comfort, and also helped discover areas of opportunity and growth, including new services and amenities for the community.
"This decision is a huge step forward for us and we've been dreaming about this for a long time," says Jim Mlsna, chairman of Gundersen St. Joseph's corporate board. "I believe we at Gundersen St. Joe's are the best at what we do. From the housekeeping staff who keep the floors sparkling to the fellas who keep our 60 year old boiler running. The decision to build a new facility is based on the hard work by the staff of St. Joe's to continuously provide high quality care to our neighbors regardless of the age of our facility."
Convenient, high-quality care for rural patients was a goal in 2011 when then-St. Joseph's Community Health Services, Inc. affiliated with Gundersen Health System and eventually became Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics. This goal drives care today and the push for a new facility.
"Patients don't choose Gundersen St. Joseph's because of a building. They choose to receive their care here because of the people, some of whom have worked here for more than 40 years, and the quality of that care," says Scott Rathgaber, MD, CEO, Gundersen Health System. "It's time to build a Hospital that reflects the care our people provide for this wonderful community, extending our commitment to bring care as close to home as possible."