Gundersen Health Systems

An Investment and Promise for the Future

Gundersen Health System’s commitment to providing high-quality care for patients has been nationally recognized as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals. Its position among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide is just one example of Gundersen’s steadfast, organizational commitment to quality. Another is its recent investment in building an entirely new campus for improving quality at every level of patient care. 

Recently, Gundersen undertook a major hospital addition and renovation. The organization’s in-house, multidisciplinary team partnered with its design firm, AECOM, to add an additional 500,000 square feet to the existing space in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The construction management firm of Kraus-Anderson, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota is the general contractor overseeing the project, which is being built in phases over 8 years.

The first phase of construction, which includes a new hospital entrance and lobby, trauma and emergency center and space for medical imaging, pre-op, surgery and hospitalized patients, was completed in early 2014.

The state-of-the art facilities feature private rooms for all patients to enhance comfort for patients and families; new operating rooms and expanded pre- and post-op areas allowing for better patient privacy and service; improved medical, surgical and critical care units; centralized services for women and children, including a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; and a comprehensive Trauma & Emergency Center.

When the building interior was designed, Gundersen worked with its architects and designers to incorporate a wide array of green and sustainable elements to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design construction standards.

Greening construction and hospital interiors is a difficult business as the number of contractors and vendors touting environmental solutions increases. The team described its effort as “moving through weeds” as they tried to balance the right choice for their patients, the cost of care, and achieving sustainability goals.

Collaboration Results in Surfaces Synergies

According to Cynthia Saathoff, Associate Principal and Senior Designer at AECOM, the upscale appearance of Corian® Quartz was the reason it was selected for the vanities in the 180 new patient rooms. The Coriander color she specified is 25% post consumer recycled content which also helped meet the project’s sustainability requirements. 

The vanities were specified to include a Corian® bowl. The design had also envisioned a curved front apron for the sink and counter, which would not be possible with quartz material. However, Hallmark Building Supplies, a preferred distributor of Corian® Design materials based in Waukesha, WI, worked with Innovative Surfaces, the local fabricator in Hastings, MN, to apply a new production technique that DuPont had recently developed to marry the Corian® Solid Surface and Corian® Quartz technologies into a unique, seamless solution for Gundersen. 

Corian® Design's custom colors technology and thermoforming processes, including the DuPont adhesive used, allowed a seamless bonding between the bowl and top. In addition, the vanities were produced in Corian® Quartz Coriander with a curved, custom Corian® color apron to match the Corian® Quartz countertop, as well as an integral solid color Corian® bowl to bring it all together as a one piece countertop that is non-porous and easy to clean.

As Kim Brose of Hallmark Building Supplies shared, “It was fun to bring this new information to my customers. The all-acrylic properties of Corian® allowed it to be curved to meet the specs of the design. And DuPont’s custom colors technology created a Corian® color to match the Corian® Quartz Coriander. All this was possible because DuPont had provided the means for distributors and fabricators to learn and share the new technologies and processes.”

Patient Well-Being is the Goal

Theresa Besse, internal designer at Gundersen, agrees Corian® Design materials were chosen for this application because both provide the ideal combination of aesthetics, durability, reparability, and the technical capability to produce this very innovative design. 

From Gundersen’s perspective, both Corian® Solid Surface and Corian® Quartz surfaces are nonporous and when properly cleaned do not support the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. Decreasing this risk of HAIs (Hospital Acquired Infections) will help improve patient outcomes and decrease the length of hospital stays. This should help decrease hospital costs. 

From the design and application perspective, both Corian® Solid Surface and Corian® Quartz surfaces can be easily and repeatedly washed and disinfected with no deterioration. Corian® Solid Surface and Corian® Quartz surface also resist chips, scratches, cracks, and stains. They are durable, practical surfaces that help prevent costly hospital maintenance in high traffic areas.

According to Nick Schwalbe of Aaron Carlson Corporation, the main fabricator for the on-going Gundersen project, “It’s a beautiful integration of materials to allow patients a quality experience that helps with the healing process.” 


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