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Gundersen, Saint Elizabeth's aim to bring better care to Wabasha

The health care options will be changing in Wabasha.

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Tom Crowley

WABASHA — The health care options will be changing in Wabasha. 

Gundersen Health Systems in La Crosse and Wabasha's Saint Elizabeth's Medical Center are working on a regional affiliation to expand services to patients in the Wabasha area. The plan would strengthen the existing relationship between Gundersen Health and Saint Elizabeth's, which is currently part of the Ascension health care network. 

"This means we're partnering with a local health care provider that will provide the continuity of care to specialty care," said Chad Springer, city administrator in Wabasha, who has worked at bringing the two organizations together. 

Springer said Gundersen will provide more local services in Wabasha than are currently available through Saint Elizabeth's alone, and will provide a referral system to specialists, both in Wabasha and in La Crosse. 

"We're not going to be a stand-alone as we've been with Ascension," Springer said. "This is a move in the right direction for people who live in and around Wabasha."

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Dr. Marilu Bintz, chief medical officer for Gundersen Health System Critical Access Hospitals and Associated Clinics, said, "Over the last two years, we have enjoyed a very positive relationship with Saint Elizabeth's through some outreach services, including orthopedics, lab and tele-stroke services. We look forward to exploring the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship."

While no formal agreement has been finalized, officials from both hospitals are hopeful they'll be able to strike a deal that will bring better care to Wabasha-area patients.

"For quite some time we have been studying new opportunities to establish an alliance with a healthcare system that is geographically and clinically positioned to help Saint Elizabeth's sustain a strong future of preserving and growing locally based programs and services that meet the changing needs of all people in the communities we are privileged to serve," said Tom Crowley, CEO at Saint Elizabeth's.

"Local access to Gundersen specialties has greatly benefited our patients as well as our team of caregivers. A more substantial relationship would enable us to bring even more services closer to home."

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