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Pandemic actually helped Mayo plan for smaller hospitals, including new six-story building for La Crosse



During two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals around the U.S. have reported occasional shortages of beds and personnel.

Now, Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse is planning a new hospital but it would be smaller than the current one that’s on West Avenue.

If that seems like a contradiction, Mayo regional vice president, Dr. Paul Mueller, said COVID has helped doctors who were already finding ways to be more efficient.

“We learned a lot from the pandemic, and the introduction of novel treatment methods and technologies that we will incorporate in a new hospital,” Mueller said.

The new Mayo hospital in La Crosse will cost about $200 million. The 70-bed, six-story facility would be connected to the current cancer center. Ground breaking is planned for April.

Mayo regional chairman Mike Morrey said La Crosse needs improved facilities, and it wouldn’t be cost effective to remodel the current hospital, which opened as St. Francis a century ago.

“The current hospital does not allow for some of the efficiencies that we’ve talked about, without a major remodel that would be very costly,” Morrey said.

He told WIZM the La Crosse hospital has gone from 80 percent of patients requiring overnight stays at one point, to only 20 percent at certain times because of ways to treat ailments outside the hospital setting.

“St. Francis Hospital is a collection of old buildings that date back about a hundred years,” Mueller said. “It had served its community, our patients, and our staff well. It has physical challenges, and we have some concerns about the structure for the long haul.”

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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