By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Clinic unveils building project
Monroe Clinic Vice President Julie Wilke and President Mike Sanders stand in front of the St. Clare Center at Monroe Clinic on Wednesday. Monroe Clinic announced a $40-million, 5-year building project that will replace the former hospital with a smaller, more efficient medical office building. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)

Monroe Clinic Timeline


• Five physicians founded Monroe Clinic, a multi-specialty group. Drs. Nation Bear, W.G. Bear, Leurner Creasy, W.B. Gnagi and John Schinder opened their doors on Jan. 1, 1939, on the second floor of the General Casualty Insurance building in Monroe.

• The physicians approached the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, inviting them to Monroe to build a hospital. In August of 1939, the Sisters began caring for patients in the newly-built St. Clare Hospital (later renamed Monroe Clinic Hospital). Additions to the hospital followed in the 1950s and 1970s.


• Monroe Clinic and St. Clare Hospital consolidated services under the umbrella of CSA's continued sponsorship.


• A new clinic building was constructed adjacent to the hospital, the two buildings were joined by a skywalk and all services took Monroe Clinic's name.


• In June, Monroe Clinic unveiled construction plans for its new hospital during a community event at Monroe High School. A groundbreaking ceremony for the $83 million, 225,000 square-foot, four-story facility took place in December 2009.


• In March, the new hospital building opened. Highlights of the new building, which was built to be environmentally friendly, included spacious interiors; an expanded Family and Women's Center; an expanded emergency room with covered ambulance entrance and helipad; advanced imaging and surgical services; a chapel with a rooftop meditation garden; and a top-floor cafeteria with outdoor seating. The former hospital building, renamed the St. Clare Center, was used to house outpatient services, such as occupational and physical therapies and behavioral health, as well as business offices.

MONROE - Monroe Clinic is set to embark on a multiphase 5-year building project that will help unify the medical facility's Monroe campus and make better use of its space overall. By the project's completion in 2020, the former hospital building will be demolished to make room for a medical office building on the site.

The building plan is an investment in the Monroe campus and the community, clinic officials said as they unveiled the plan to The Monroe Times Wednesday.

The original hospital building was built in 1938, with additions constructed in the 1950s and 1970s; Monroe Clinic built a new hospital connected to the clinic building across the street that opened in March 2012. At that time, some outpatient services, such as physical and occupational therapy and behavioral health, and some business offices remained in the former hospital building, now operating as the St. Clare Center.

Even as the new hospital was being built, Monroe Clinic knew it would need to address the St. Clare building, said Mike Sanders, president and CEO. The building is expensive to maintain and is about two-thirds empty. It has limited renovation options and will need major repairs, including roofing and boilers.

Last fall, the Clinic ramped up efforts to determine its next steps with the building - no small task, he said. Management looked at each department and hired an architectural firm to assess each building's condition and help decipher the logistics of reconfiguring the campus.

"In many ways, it was more challenging than designing a new building," Sanders said.

The board of directors approved the plan this summer.

Jim Nemeth, Monroe Clinic's chief financial officer, estimated the project's total cost at $40 million over five years. The facility has been saving for the project for several years. A more efficient building will also help the facility recoup money: He estimated Monroe Clinic will save $750,000 annually in utilities alone when the St. Clare Center comes down.

Phased project

The public won't see any physical signs of construction for at least a year.

Under the plan, the project's first phase will begin this fall by finalizing the plan to remodel empty shell space above the emergency room to house physical therapy.

This shell space was added for possible expansion when the new hospital was being built - which ultimately will save the facility money. "It's incredibly cost effective" to have that space rather than add on later, said Steve Borowski, director of facilities. And because the basic structure is there, renovation work can continue with minimal disruption to patients.

Also this fall, Monroe Clinic will devise a relocation plan for the 200 employees who currently work in the St. Clare Center.

Over the winter, design plans will begin for the renovation of the orthopedic building to the west of the hospital building.

Renovation work for the orthopedic building and physical therapy space is expected next spring and summer. Office staff in the oldest portion of the St. Clare Center will also be moved.

By next fall, physical therapy services should be in its new location, and demolition of the 1938 and 1950 portions of the former hospital building will begin.

In the spring of 2017, construction of a new medical office building will begin, with completion expected that winter. Demolishing the rest of the St. Clare Center can then begin.

During 2019, demolition will wrap up and the skywalk will be extended to the new medical office building.

By 2020, all remodeling and staff relocation should be complete.

Looking at future

While the plan for relocating staff is still in the works, officials said they are looking to ensure the best patient experience and provide the best medical care.

To that end, the project will also include some remodeling of the current Clinic building, built in 1993. The building is in good shape, but some of its design, such as large waiting areas, don't fit in with what the Clinic sees as the future of medical care, said Julie Wilke, Clinic vice president. The goal now is to have smaller waiting rooms and get patients to providers as quickly as possible, she said.

Renovation will help patients find their way better and fit in with the facility's vision of healing green space and a unified look for the campus.

"The last thing people need is to be confused" about where to go when they visit the clinic and hospital, she said. "It's stressful enough" to be in need of medical care.

The goal is to have flexible space to meet the facility's needs as health care needs change.

"This helps guarantee our future going forward," Sanders said.