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Gundersen Health System


Gundersen Health SystemGundersen Health System Review

For over 20 years, Gundersen Health System has been a prominent healthcare network in western Wisconsin. With group medical practices, community clinics, affiliate hospitals and behavioral health services located throughout the state as well as northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota, Gundersen is a comprehensive provider of medical and general health care.

Through its behavioral clinic, GHS offers evidence-based, individualized inpatient care as well as both Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and basic outpatient substance abuse treatment.

Accommodations and Food

The GHS Inpatient Behavioral Health unit is a 24-bed hospital facility that provides mental health, detox and alcohol and drug addiction recovery services. Private rooms are available, as are additional beds for adolescents (so parents may be by their child’s side during detox).

For those seeking residential inpatient treatment, GHS offers two “Unity Houses”—one for each gender—that provide chemical dependency treatment programs for adults 18 and over. Both houses are located in quiet, residential neighborhoods of La Crosse, with the men’s house offering 12 beds and the women’s eight. Clients live communally for 20 to 30 days of treatment.

Unity House clients make their own breakfast and attend lunchtime AA meetings where a buffet is served. GHS fully caters dinner (a three-course meal with dessert) and all special dietary and food requests are accommodated—staff purchase requested items on their daily grocery shopping trips. Snacks and coffee are also provided.

Treatment and Staff

After an initial evaluation, a team of psychiatrists determines the individual needs of each client. If staff members conclude that the resident needs detox, GHS provides this service through the Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit. The detox process includes methadone and Suboxone maintenance.

The intensive outpatient track at GHS offers individualized treatment and clients meet regularly with a chemical dependency counselor and take part in group and individual therapy. The IOP daily program runs from 8 am to 3 pm. A typical day starts with morning meditation, continues with group therapy and then lunch happens concurrently with AA and/or NA meetings. Clients must take part in two meetings a day, followed by education groups, and additional individual and group counseling. There are both intensive day and evening outpatient programs.

For a less intensive outpatient treatment option, clients may choose from individual counseling, a free family program (counseling and education), an intervention program and an adolescent alcohol and drug program, as well as aftercare and relapse prevention groups.

Clients who require intensive inpatient care in a hospital setting stay in the Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit for mental health and chemical dependency treatment. The staff includes psychiatrists, nurses, internal medicine providers, social workers (LCSWs) and occupational and recreational therapists.

The inpatient residential program (which is offered through Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center) places clients in either Unity House for Men or Unity House for Women. During treatment, clients receive education on the addiction-as-a-disease concept and identify and address relapse triggers with the goal of developing a stable, supportive recovery environment. The Unity Houses are staffed by certified substance abuse counselors (CSACs) and counseling service technicians, most of whom have been through the same treatment program.

The GHS halfway house—which provides clients with beds in one of the two Unity Houses—has fewer services at a lower cost than the full residential treatment track while also providing job and housing resources.

All GHS substance abuse recovery programs are 12-step based and clients are expected to reach the fifth step before leaving treatment.


Gundersen offers the use of a library as well as organized fishing trips on weekends. Family visitations and recreation—such as barbecues—are also arranged.

GHS also has comprehensive help for those suffering from mood disorders and mental illness with their Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Pastoral care is provided for those who desire it.

In Summary

Gundersen Health System is a wide-reaching organization that offers countless services in Wisconsin and neighboring states. While not luxurious, the recovery track options are comprehensive, with multiple inpatient and outpatient programs to choose from.

Gundersen Health System Location

1900 South Ave
La Crosse, WI 54601

Gundersen Health System Cost

Sliding scale (30 days), $359.40 (initial counselor interview), $290.60 (individual counseling, per hour), $151.50 (group counseling, per day). Reach Gundersen Health System by phone at (608) 775-4753. Find Gundersen Health System on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn

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