Crossing Rivers observes 60 years of service to area

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Two of the first medical staff members were Dr. Thomas Farrell (left) and Dr. Verne C. Epley.

Pictured as they cared for a patient in the early 1980s: Jan Weisensale, RN (seated), and Linda Schoulte, RN. Weisensale worked for the hospital from 1974-2015 and continues her involvement at the hospital as a Partners Board Member. Schoulte began her career at the hospital in 1978. She is the director of inpatient services at Crossing Rivers Health.

“Since 1957, the mission of the hospital has been to meet the healthcare needs of the communities we serve, and it has been an amazing six decades,” said Bill Sexton, chief executive officer at Crossing Rivers Health. “In the past 60 years, there have been revolutionary changes in medicine and technology, and the hospital has evolved and adapted to accommodate those changes. An integral part of the hospital’s success, is that our team has led our organization to make those changes over the years with dedication and vision.”

The early history of the hospital credits a group of dedicated community citizens with the idea of building a new hospital in 1954. Although there was a hospital in the area, patients often had to wait for surgery or other medical care, because there weren’t enough beds to accommodate them. Community members knew that the present hospital facilities were being pushed to well beyond their intended limits.

From the earliest planning stages to the groundbreaking ceremony, community members and physicians worked selflessly to bring the healthcare facility into being. Funds were sought by private donors, government aid and by loans. Since its establishment, the hospital remains an independent not-for-profit rural community hospital.

Charlie Connell has been on the hospital board of directors since 2009, became president in 2015, and currently serves as treasurer. He stated, “One of the highlights of my experiences on the board, was planning and building the new medical center. The combined efforts of the board and all department employees were incredible; it took amazing teamwork to build an exceptional building with a comfortable, healing environment equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The current location allows us to expand services even more to offer easy access to the highest quality care and services. It is a tremendous convenience for our patients and their families to receive these health care services without the need to travel.”

Joining Connell on the current board of directors are Katie Garrity, president; Lisa Esser, vice president; Chad Trautsch, secretary; Roy C. George; Chad Abram; and Mattie Rademacher. Serving as ex-officio members are Bill Sexton, chief executive officer; and Dr. Matthew Olson, medical chief of staff.

Samantha Donahue, human resources director, is extremely proud of the hospital’s staff tenure record. She said, “The hospital opened with a staff of only 29 people. Today, the total number of employees is 372. An impressive 63 of our employees have 20 years of service or more, and 40 employees have tenure of 15 to 19 years. Those numbers speak volumes about the extensive experience of our team and the caring environment that they have developed to deliver compassionate care.”

Linda Schoulte has been a registered nurse at the hospital since 1978. As the director of inpatient services at Crossing Rivers Health, she collaborates with physicians to coordinate inpatient care. She commented, “There have been so many changes since my early days at the hospital. Years ago, longer stays were common for patients to recover from surgery or from an injury, and it was not unusual for women to spend up to a week or more in the hospital after giving birth. Advances in technology have given us medication dispensing systems, smart pumps to deliver intravenous fluids and medications, the electronic health record and much more. Diagnostic equipment and minimally invasive procedures allow patients to recover faster. It has been very gratifying to interact with patients and their families, fellow colleagues and our medical staff- all to help others.”

For over 30 years, Chris Schroeder, has been a nurse at the hospital. Her career has included working in the medical/surgical unit, emergency department, pharmacy and obstetrics. For the past 10 years, she has been the obstetrical services director. She commented, “It has been a true privilege to be on the frontline of our team where we have provided comfort and care, helped ease concerns, and witnessed the miracle of birth. Each experience touches the heart in some way. Looking back at the hospital’s birth records, I discovered that nearly 11,200 babies have been delivered at the hospital since it opened in 1957. Those births total twice the number of residents in Prairie du Chien. I also learned that 1973 and 1980 were busy years in obstetrics; 255 births were recorded in each of those years. We are looking forward to an exciting baby boom this year; we have delivered 61 babies since the first of the year.”

Sexton added, “Sixty years is an exciting milestone for our organization. Our mission is as valid as it was 60 years ago—we are dedicated to providing the best care for every patient, every time. It is a privilege to serve the people of this beautiful region of southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa, and we are looking forward to the next 60 years.”

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