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Gundersen St. Joseph's new campus gets initial zoning approval

Gundersen St. Joseph's new campus gets initial zoning approval
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Gundersen St. Joseph’s new campus gets initial zoning approval

On Monday, June 18, 2018, members of the Hillsboro City Plan Commission and Common Council unanimously approved the zoning change and initial implementation plan for the new home of Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics.

Initial plans and preliminary design concepts for the new campus were presented to council members for approval by Danni Gearhart, CEO, Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics, and Paul Widlarz, principal architect from HGA Architects and Engineers.

The campus is estimated to take around three years to complete and will include a new 65,000 square foot facility, including a primary care clinic, hospital services, inpatient wing, emergency services, surgery, rehabilitation and a specialty clinic. The former Gundersen Hillsboro Clinic at 300 Water Avenue will have minor renovations to convert it into an office building for non-clinical departments, allowing more space in the new facility to be dedicated to direct patient care services.

The new campus will incorporate emergency and hospital services on the ground floor with clinic, specialty services and surgery on the second floor. Inpatient rooms will benefit from panoramic vistas of Field Veterans Memorial Lake.

"There's been a hospital on this property since Dr. Hansberry founded the Hansberry Hospital in 1911," says Gearhart. "Our current facility was built in 1953, and although it meets with all state and federal code requirements, it's coming to the end of its useful life."

The current facility is licensed for 25 inpatient rooms, but changes in medical technology and the delivery of healthcare has resulted in fewer overnight stays for patients and quicker recovery times. These changes have reduced the demand for inpatient rooms. "Our average daily census is 4 patients and our highest daily census in 2017 was 12 patients. Conversely, our outpatient and same day service volumes have increased dramatically in recent years. Some departments have seen as much as 15 percent growth in a year. This is a trend in the industry, and so we're building accordingly to ensure we meet patient and staff needs, while responsibly using our budget," Gearhart says.

"It's really going to be spectacular," Widlarz says. "I wish I could design more hospitals on a lake." The new design will take advantage of the natural beauty of the area and blend exterior and interior design elements to bring the outside in, with features such as a pedestrian garden at the entrance.

Consideration for the environment will also be a high priority as the campus looks to offer onsite opportunities to improve water quality in the lake. Storm water mitigation and filtration strategies, such as rain gardens and bio-retention swales, are included in site development. "Parking will be along the lakeside, so we're designing the campus to ensure that we handle run-off from the parking lot, including oil, gas and salt from vehicles, and diverting it to where it needs to go for treatment instead of having it run into the lake," Widlarz states.

Construction is estimated to start in spring of 2019 and last approximately 18 to 24 months, with a further 6 months to demolish the current facility. When complete, the 4.2-acre campus will boast almost 200 off-street parking spaces, eliminating the need for street parking on highway 80.

Monday's zoning approval by the city of Hillsboro allows Gundersen St. Joseph's to proceed with the development of a specific implementation plan for the construction project. "This approval says that the location of the building, proximity to its surroundings and general plan for the campus conforms to the zoning requirements as laid out by the city," says Gearhart. "The next step is to develop a specific implementation plan for the city to review and approve before construction gets a green light."

For more information on the new facility project, visit

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La Crosse, WI 54601

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