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New hospital will have same hometown touch

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River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
New hospital will have same hometown touch
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Fifty years after the opening of its first community hospital, Hudson is poised to open a new facility this summer. The new hospital will be the cornerstone of the Hudson Health Campus, which will include Hudson Physicians Clinic, a specialty clinic, pharmacy, rehabilitation center and health resource center.

Much on the campus will be new and will offer the best that medical technology and training can provide. But much of what will go on at the new Hudson Hospital will be built on the tradition of care and healing that has been maintained at the community hospital throughout its 50 years.

"When we first announced this plan, we had in mind the vision they had 50 years ago when they built Hudson's first hospital and how it has served this community throughout the years. Now it is this generation's turn to create a new vision for the next 50 years," said John Clymer, president of the Hudson Hospital board of directors.

Clymer said residents in the Hudson area have become accustomed to being cared for by people they know and trust, and feel that relationship is an important part of the healing process. The community's proximity to more specialized care in the Twin Cities has not diminished the importance of the community hospital. Clymer believes that Hudson Hospital found its own niche in providing health care to the community and that no one fills that niche better. That is as much a testament to the past 50 years of medical care in Hudson as it is to the vision for the future.

Ken Heiser, chairman of the Hudson Health Campus capital campaign, agrees. "For 50 years the hospital has served us well, but like anything else the time has come for something different. We have outgrown the building. We're out of space, we can't remodel and we need to keep up technologically. If we want to have a community hospital, we need to be competitive."

Heiser, president of First National Bank, said when talk first began about building a new hospital, some in the community questioned the need for a new building. And Heiser says that too speaks to the excellent service that the staff at Hudson Hospital has always provided.

"But as time went on, the majority of people began to see the need for a new facility. Even those people originally on the fence about a new facility came over to the idea that we needed it," said Heiser.

Because of the affiliation with HealthPartners, some people felt that they should be the ones to build the new hospital, according to Heiser. "But the truth is that this is our hospital, part of our community and, therefore, our responsibility to build. If we don't see it that way, there is no guarantee that we will have a hospital here."

Heiser said the response to the capital campaign has been very gratifying, from the large donations of several thousands of dollars to those of $50 or $100. "Whether we were given $10,000 or $100, it all adds up. When people write their checks, they are saying, 'This is for my hospital in my community. And when I need care, that's where I am going to go'."

The staff of Hudson Hospital has worked hard over the past 50 years to keep pace with all the changes and advances in health care. Over the years the hospital has added a variety of services including a wide variety of rehabilitation services, a health resource center, an imaging center, a variety of specialty services, chemical health and anger management programs.

One of the fastest growing areas of the hospital has been the outpatient surgery service. Patty Vorwald is the surgical service nurse manager. There are 16 other nurses and technicians in the department. According to Vorwald, the staff handles approximately 1,100 same-day surgeries a year. That number represents 80 percent of the surgeries performed at the hospital, which include arthroscopic and laparoscopic procedures. Nineteen surgeons have privileges at Hudson Hospital.

While procedures and technology have continued to change and improve in all areas of the hospital, its basic mission has not: exceptional care close to home. Vonnie St. Peter has seen lots of changes at Hudson Hospital during her 25 years as a nurse there. She has spent many of them in the obstetrics department, which she now heads, and has helped to deliver multiple generations of Hudson-area families.

She points out that while the basic "mechanics" of having babies hasn't changed, there have been many improvements and advances that have made the delivery of babies safer and better for families. She points specifically to things like fetal monitors, which are now a regular part of the care and delivery of babies, and pain control and management.

"We've had some wonderful changes here over the years. We can't change the walls here but within those walls we can provide the best possible care that the newest equipment and technology and training allows."

That said, when asked about leaving the old hospital for a new one, her response is quick and enthusiastic. "Oh, it will be wonderful, I can't wait." St. Peter said she and her staff, as well as staff throughout the hospital, have been actively involved in the design of their respective departments. "The space, the whirlpools in the rooms, the equipment and the location. I can't wait."

And while she admits to some melancholy at the thought of leaving the current hospital for the new campus, she believes the staff and the community will make the transition happily. "We will take everything good, including the memories, with us."

Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
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