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When Garith Steiner graduated among Luther College's second class of nursing students in 1979, he never dreamed he would spend nearly 30 years in the same place.

Now, the former chief executive officer at Vernon Memorial Healthcare in Viroqua is coming out of retirement to provide interim leadership at Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics. He replaces Deb Smith who will retire July 29 after six years as Gundersen St. Joseph's CEO and 16 years with Gundersen Health System.

"I'm a Prairie du Chien native, and I've lived in Viroqua for more than 30 years," Steiner says, "so I hold rural communities and rural healthcare close to my heart. Joining Gundersen St. Joseph's is an exciting opportunity."

With the exception of a short stint as a home health nurse with Vernon County in the early 1980s, Steiner worked exclusively at Vernon Memorial, including 24 years as CEO.

"Garith is a proven, effective leader with experience leading a critical access hospital and caring for patients in Vernon County," says Bryan Erdmann, Regional System vice president for Gundersen Health System. "We are losing a great leader in Deb Smith, and I'm grateful for her service, but Gundersen knows Garith well through our long-standing partnership with Vernon Memorial. I know he will help Gundersen St. Joseph's build upon their successes."

During his time at Vernon Memorial, Steiner led efforts to build a medical office building in Viroqua for local providers, including Gundersen Health System physicians, add on to the Hospital's Emergency Room and remodel patient rooms.

"Gundersen St. Joseph's has a bright future," Steiner says. "I look forward to working with the top-notch providers and staff in the coming months and supporting them as they care for patients and the community.


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