The linear accelerator vault is no ordinary space.

The one built for Gundersen Health System in Tomah is composed of solid concrete walls and a ceiling three to 6 ½ feet thick. The door contains 10,000 pounds of lead and takes a minute to close. It took 20,000 pounds of ice to cool the cement to 150 degrees so it would properly set.

The vault is a critical piece of the clinic’s cancer treatment center and one of the most complex undertakings of the new Gundersen Tomah Clinic. The 77,000-square foot facility, located on the new Tomah Health campus on Gopher Avenue, will triple Gundersen’s footprint in Tomah when it opens early this fall. It currently operates two facilities at separate locations on Superior Avenue.

Dave Campbell, regional project manager for Gundersen, said most of the exterior work is done.

“Everything is inside now,” Campbell said. “Everything is heated. All the windows are in.”

Campbell said extra space will allow the clinic to create new services and expand others. Patients will have access to a variety of services, including dental, family medicine, general surgery, imaging, lab work, OB/GYN, orthopedics, podiatry, renal dialysis, vision and several other specialty services.

There will also be a Gundersen pharmacy inside the clinic with drive-through service.

“Our patients will have our services all under one roof,” Campbell said. “When you come into the clinic, you come into one spot, and they take care of you.”

Construction began last April with a groundbreaking ceremony conducted in June. Campbell said general contractor Kraus Anderson anticipates turning the building over to Gundersen by “early summer,” but he added it will take several weeks to move and install the equipment and conduct a “terminal clean” after construction is done.

“It takes weeks to stock the clinic and get everything set up,” he said. “We’ll start installing the linear accelerator in April, but it takes several months to calibrate it and get it working properly before we can even look at doing anything with patients.”

Campbell said Gundersen plans to move equipment on weekends to ensure that patient service isn’t interrupted during the transition. He said the clinic will likely open before the new hospital does.

“We may be a little bit early; it depends on how construction goes,” he said.

He said Gundersen is working closely with the hospital, which is moving from the Tomah Memorial Hospital site on Butts Avenue and expects to open in October as Tomah Health. He said coordination ranges from integrating health care services to snow removal and lawn care.

The two buildings will be connected by a covered walkway.

“We’re working in concert with each other to ensure the Tomah area gets the best possible health care,” Campbell said.

Tomah Health CEO Phil Stuart appreciates the cooperation.

“Throughout the entire process, Gundersen officials have collaborated on construction plans and program development at the Tomah Health campus,” Stuart said. “We look forward to continuing our strong partnership to provide comprehensive quality care for patients in Tomah and surrounding communities.”

Stuart said plans for Tomah Health remain on track with the first scheduled patient day set for Oct. 2.

Campbell said Gundersen is looking forward to meeting the area’s growing demand for health care services.

“It all comes down to the need for physical space,” Campbell said. “We need the space. We need to grow.”

Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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