Gundersen's new legacy in patient care

Legacy building houses new amenities and technology for patients, family and staff

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Gundersen Health System's Legacy building has been in the works for about three years and is finally ready to be put to the test. The building currently housing all of the patients was built back in 1961 and lacks much of the technology and amenities used today.

The new building has all of the bells and whistles the La Crosse community is looking for in a hospital.  Operational project manager Mason Quackenbush said the backbone of this project was based on the needs of the patients and their families.

"We asked the question: What would make this a better space for families and their patients?" said Quackenbush.

For starters, developers created a new, functional layout in the emergency unit with an onstage and offstage hallway.

An onstage hallway is where patients, visitors and family members would be when they are in the emergency unit.  The offstage hallway is on the opposite side, where staff can speak freely amongst themselves without being in front of the family.

When a patient moves to a hospital room, they will no longer share it with someone else.

"You won't have to share it with a patient or another patient's family.  It will be much better for patients, it will be quieter, it will be more private and it will give them their own space," said Gundersen CEO Jeff Thompson.

Thompson said it is important to make the family feel at home, as well.


"There is a family area with a couch that can pull out into a bed, so family members will be able to stay in the room with their loved ones through tough times and issues in the hospital," said Thompson.

An update to the nurse call system will let the nurse know exactly what the patient needs. 

"It saves them steps and it gets them to the patient more quickly," said Thompson.

The new features won't only help the patients and families, they will also create a more functional space for staff.  One of the new tools for nurses is a nurse server, which allows them to stockpile linens, new supplies or even medications so that nurses don't disturb sleeping patients.

Board members say it's a new building with many goals. 

"Our hope was that we could provide a better environment for patients to heal, for families to support them in their healing and for the staff to be more efficient in getting them better quicker," said Thompson.

Developers believe they have accomplished those goals.

"We are never going to be a hotel, but we want to be a place where people feel comfortable," said Quackenbush.

The patients will be moving into the Legacy building on Jan. 19. However, before the doors open for the patients, Gundersen wants to show the facilities to the public.  There's an open house scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.  Everyone is welcome to tour the space from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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