Gundersen Lansing Clinic to care for bridge workers

by Ryan Henry
Gundersen Health System

Over the next three years, the Black Hawk Bridge, an iconic steel span that links Lansing and Crawford County, WI over the Mississippi River, will slowly be replaced by a wider, more modern structure that will improve traveler safety on the bridge and in Lansing.

As construction ramps up, workers from around the Midwest will settle into the area, calling this part of northeast Iowa their home away from home for an extended period. With this influx of temporary residents, Gundersen Lansing Clinic was called upon to partner with the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation (DOT) to provide for the medical needs - both those related to the job and otherwise - of the crews.

It’s a new challenge clinical manager Marie Christianson and her staff are looking forward to, and it’s a way for them to feel like a part of one of the biggest infrastructure projects Lansing has seen since the original bridge was built in 1931. The importance of the bridge to the people of the area can’t be understated, says Christianson, who grew up in Lansing and lived in nearby Waukon for 30 years.

“It’s huge because some people come from over there (Wisconsin) to work and people from here go over there to work,” she said, “and they’ll come over here for the businesses, too.”

The clinic regularly sees several people from Wisconsin, and while they’re in town, they’ll stop at the grocery store and fill up at the gas station, Christianson says. And with the next closest river crossing at La Crosse, WI to the north and Marquette to the south, the Black Hawk Bridge provides an important link to allow that to happen.

Gundersen is joining local and area law enforcement agencies, fire departments, ambulance services, emergency preparedness departments and construction companies to help execute such a complex undertaking. The Lansing Clinic’s role is to prepare for both the expected and unexpected when it comes to the workers’ health and safety.

“We’re here to serve the workers by doing worker’s compensation things, triaging, maybe small lacerations, things like that,” Christianson said, which is in addition to other procedures like vaccinations, acute care, pain injections and DOT physicals.

The clinic had received a few calls already from workers looking to establish care, but they’ve yet to have anyone with an injury walk through the door. Christianson says it’s hard to tell what kind of volume to expect once the project is in full swing, but she and the staff at the Lansing Clinic will be ready and can add same-day acute visits, if it becomes necessary.

“I think we’re ready, and we’ll have to see what happens after they start,” she said.

Anyone who would like to follow the progress of the Lansing bridge project may visit