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Published on February 22, 2017

Exterior of Gundersen Saint Joseph's, Hillsboro

Gundersen St. Joseph's hosts community focus group to help shape plans for new facility

On Wednesday, February 22, Gundersen St. Joseph's held a community focus group with assistance from HGA Architects. The aim of the focus group was 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 Hospital and Clinics including Elroy, Wonewoc, Union Center, Kendall, Ontario and Hillsboro.

The focus group began with a tour which aimed to highlight problem areas in the current facility – factors which included accessibility and way-finding, privacy, security and comfort. The discussion also helped discover areas of opportunity and growth, including new services and amenities for the community.

Kristie McCoic, clinic operations officer for Gundersen St. Joseph's said, "The facility was a much needed addition to the community back in the 1950s, and there were many individuals who went above and beyond to support the building of a new hospital back then. We owe a lot to those individuals. Since then, we have grown as an organization, healthcare has changed and our patients' needs have changed. We have great staff here who provide high quality, personal care for our patients and both deserve a facility that supports them as we move into this next chapter of St. Joseph's."

Many of the positive comments from the community centered around the compassionate nature of the staff at Gundersen St. Joseph's as well as the healing natural beauty of the lakeside location. "When you're sick and spending a night in hospital, where else would you want to be than beside this lake with bald eagles soaring majestically over the water right outside of your window?" said Dan Howard, director of Marketing at Gundersen St. Joseph's, who conducted one of the tours around the facility.

The focus group was the second stage of a five month phase referred to as 'pre-design.' HGA Architects were represented by healthcare planner and architect Tarah Raaum and junior architect Matt Carlson. HGA were chosen by the administration team of Gundersen St. Joseph's due to their roots in west central Wisconsin; Raaum being a native of Viroqua and Carlson who grew up in La Crosse.

"It was important to us that we hired individuals who understood what rural communities need, how they interact and what's important to them," said McCoic "That's why we hired HGA."

"We haven't put pen to paper yet, but the focus groups are intended as listening sessions to help inform the design of the new hospital. We organize these meetings really early in the design process so that the feedback can influence the design direction of the new hospital," said Tarah Raaum, healthcare planner and architect at HGA.

HGA will take all of the feedback provided through the focus group and community survey and begin the process of developing ideas for how the facility can meet the needs of the community. HGA are expected to report back during May.

For more information on the new hospital project, or to submit your thoughts, contact Dan Howard, director of Marketing at Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics at

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