Groundbreaking ‘plants the seed of wellness for future generations’ as new hospital construction begins

hospital groundbreaking


By Ted Pennekamp

Approximately 200 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new hospital at 37868 Highway 18, Prairie du Chien, at approximately 3 p.m. Monday, June 10 to kick off the beginning of the actual construction. The new hospital is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014. Several spoke at the event. 

“This day marks the beginning of a new era in health care for the communities that surround this area,” said Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital CEO Bill Sexton. “But this is but one chapter in the history of an organization that has provided care for more than half a century. In its beginnings, the current hospital now located two and one-half miles to the north of us, was built on a portion of farmland donated by the Polodna family. Today, we begin a new building on farmland formerly owned by the Selch family.  

“The times are different, the technology is different, the way we provide care is different and the diseases we treat are different but one thing is still the same; people come to us sick and broken, scared and upset and we make them better.

“None of us standing here today expected to be breaking ground for a new hospital but after years of study and looking at many alternatives, it is what is necessary to continue the legacy of caring which makes us one of the top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the nation two years in a row and in the top 5 percent of small hospitals for clinical outcomes.

“We began 57 years ago when the iron lung was the state-of-the-art in technology for treatment of tuberculosis and have evolved to computerized equipment that can transform diseased tissue into healthy tissue again. Our CT scanner, 4D ultrasound and surgical booms are the best available and the platform of a new hospital will make care better for patients, a better place to work for staff and a wonderful place to practice medicine for the medical staff.

“Today, we are joined by our friends, colleagues, collaborative partners, donors, community members, hospital family and others to begin a new chapter in the ongoing life of an organization dedicated to excellence. This new facility will offer better privacy, efficiency, have the ability to grow and adapt to changes in technology and care models.  

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, the medical staff, the leadership, Partners, Foundation, and the employees of Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital, I ask you to join us as we plant the seed of wellness for future generations to sow and reap the benefits as a new building begins to sprout from this land bringing the blossoms of a new beginning and the fruit of new service to this region.  

“May all who stand with us today know that they are making a difference for future generations and continuing the legacy of excellence in medicine for this century and for the generations to come.”

The general contractor for the new hospital is Market & Johnson, which has offices in Eau Claire and La Crosse. The architect is BWBR Architects, which has offices in St. Paul, Minn. and Madison, Wis.

The new hospital is projected to cost $50 million. According to Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital Chief Financial Officer Dave Breitbach, in the long term, the United States Department of Agriculture has committed a $32.4 million direct loan for the new hospital. Peoples State Bank of Prairie du Chien, acting as lead bank in a syndicate of community banks, has committed $7.6 million in bank qualified/tax exempt bonds. Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital has committed a total of $10 million.

Peoples State Bank has put together the interim financing totaling $27.5 million so that the project can get started before the USDA loan is received. The interim borrowing will be paid off at the completion of the project. The funds provided by Peoples State Bank, as the lead bank, are the funds Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital accessed by utilizing Crawford County’s borrowing capacity of $10 million per year in bank qualified/tax exempt bonds. The County Board has approved of allowing the hospital to access up to $10 million of its borrowing capacity for 2013.


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