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La Crosse kicks off new year with new hospital construction

By Jan Basina

An artist's rendering shows the new Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse.

A major new building project will start the new year off right in the city of La Crosse.

Construction is set to begin this month for Gundersen Lutheran’s new 400,000-square-foot, six-floor hospital, along with remodeling of the old facility.

The construction management firm of Kraus-Anderson, based in Minneapolis, is the general contractor overseeing the project, which will be built in phases over the next eight years.

The first phase of construction, which includes a new hospital entrance and lobby, trauma and emergency center and space for medical imaging, pre-op, surgery and hospitalized patients, is anticipated to be complete in 2014.

When completed, the state-of-the art facilities, designed by Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM company, will feature private rooms; new operating rooms; improved medical-surgical and critical care units; centralized services for women and children, including a new neonatal intensive care unit; and a trauma and emergency center with adjoining imaging services.

A specific dollar amount for the project has not yet been released. But according to Kraus-Anderson officials, the first phase of the project will be one of the largest health care construction projects in the La Crosse area this year.

A community capital campaign is also set to begin raising money for the project at the nationally renowned hospital. The hospital set a precedent that has forever changed the practice of medicine in La Crosse, and perhaps even, the nation.

In 1995, Gundersen Clinic and Lutheran Hospital-La Crosse formed Gundersen Lutheran Inc. But long before that, the hospital gained national prominence. The origins of Gundersen Lutheran’s health care can be traced all the way back to 1902, when Lutheran Hospital-La Crosse was opened and Dr. Adolf Gundersen served as its first medical director.

But it was in 1917 when the hospital gained national attention. That was when Gundersen decided that some of the hospital’s staff physicians were incompetent and asked the hospital board for control over who was to practice medicine at the hospital. Doctors who were not admitted to the staff sued, taking their battle all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

That decision set a national precedent when the court agreed hospitals should be allowed to set their own criteria for membership on their medical staff.

And Gundersen Lutheran is again in a position to set another precedent. The hospital is being constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

The hospital’s goal is to achieve 100 percent energy independence by 2014.

Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She’s always happy to report on new construction in the new year.

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