WABASHA — On a warm and windy October morning, Brian Goihl drove his combine to Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Wabasha and began the soybean harvest. His wife, Jerilyn Goihl, steered a tractor alongside the combine, catching the beans transferred from the combine to the tractor cart.
The two donated their services Tuesday on the 40 acres of cropland in front of the hospital, Jake’s Field of Dreams. An estimated $30,000 profit from this year’s harvest will go toward the hospital’s planned wellness center expansion, an estimated $7 million project.
“It’s been a longstanding vision and dream of ours for years to expand upon our rehab and wellness center services,” said Carla Theusch, manager of rehabilitation services at Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s. “So, to be able to bring that up front, to be accessible and visible to the community, it’s going to be a treat for everybody.”
The 19,000-square-foot outpatient facility will be built on the west lawn of the hospital between its main and emergency room entrances. The wellness center will be home to cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, physical therapy and occupational therapy services along with a drive-thru pharmacy.
“What we’re doing is trying to combine cardiac rehab, physical therapy, all of those rehab services together in one location with easy access to the doctors at the clinic,” said Tom Crowley, director of the St. Elizabeth's Community Development Foundation.
With $3.4 million raised so far, Crowley said he hopes to break ground in the spring of 2023.
“Once we raise the dollars,” he said. “The community’s been very, very generous. In the last 15 years, they’ve contributed over $15 million of donations to all of our building projects."
Crowley added that the seed, fertilizer and labor on Jake’s Field of Dreams are donated by local individuals and businesses. When it comes to constructing the wellness center, community donations will also play a role.
“We have several contractors that have agreed to help us with in-kind labor,” Crowley said. “We have another contractor that will pour the cement for us. He has donated the cement for every project we’ve done — I haven’t told him this project is 19,000 square feet, but I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m praying that he’ll be there.”
“I think the biggest thing is the community coming together to really promote rural health care and sustain it,” said Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Administrator Jim Root. “And to have care close to home is really what I think Wabasha’s been about for our 125 years.”