Local News

The logistics of moving a hospital

Gundersen Health System's staff prepares to move into new Legacy building

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - It's going to be a busy weekend for patients, families and staff at Gundersen Health System as they prepare to move into the new hospital on Sunday.

For the past couple of weeks, staff members have been preparing to move equipment and about 150 patients without interrupting their level of care.

It's been a work in progress, but staff members have a plan in place to make it a smooth transition for everyone.

"We are ready for this.  We've prepared for this for a really long time," said Jan DeHaan, an administrator at Gundersen Health System. 

DeHaan said they have been planning the move for about a year.

"It's not really complicated.  It's really just a consideration of what does that patient need.  We move patients every day and we do that safely and respectfully," said DeHaan.


Now the patients will be moving into an entirely new building, which takes a little more practice.  Mason Quackenbush, operational project manager at Gundersen Health System, said each patient has a specific plan.

"We have a pretty extensive plan for those patients if they need a physician to go with or additional nursing staff," said Quackenbush.

First, the patient will prepare to move.

"After that, when we have a move scheduled for a specific time, the patients will be ready to go at that time," said Quackenbush.

The preparation will include equipment, supplies and personal items. Then a move team will be deployed.

"That will include a transporter and then the nurses and staff on the unit," said Quackenbush.

A specific route is planned and an advance team will be sent out to make sure the hallways are clear for the patient.

"If we are moving a patient, there's not going to be something popping out in the corridor, there's not going to be a garbage can in the way and the doors aren't going to be closed," said Quackenbush.

The advance team will be in place to make sure the patient makes it to the room safely, without any delays.  Once the patient is checked in, the next patient will be sent over.  Although there is a plan to follow, administrators admit that you can't plan for everything.

"There isn't any scenario where you can have all the answers in advance, but we have people who make critical decisions every day and that is what we are going to do on Sunday," said DeHaan.

On Sunday, the move will happen in three phases, beginning at 4:00 a.m. If everything goes as planned, administrators said patients from every department will be moved in by about 1:00 p.m.

The hospital will remain completely operational during the entire move, which means it will be accepting patients at any time.

Once everyone is moved into the new Legacy building, the old part of the hospital will be cleared out and renovated. After emergency services moves, the first floor will be reconfigured and used as a place to store all of the imaging equipment. As soon as the operating rooms on the second floor are vacant, they will be renovated and used as an extension of the operating rooms from the new building. However, there will also be open spaces to store extra equipment and supplies.

"We have an extensive plan to figure out how to get rid of the other stuff, whether it is a donation or sale, whatever it might be.  But we are going to use as much as we can," said Quackenbush.

Many of the spaces will remain empty until hospital administrators decide how to fill them.

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