Gundersen CEO named Champion of Change by White House

La Crosse, Wisconsin, UNITED STATES

LA CROSSE, Wis., July 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The White House today honored Gundersen Health System CEO Jeff Thompson, MD, and 10 others as Champions of Change in the area of Climate and Health. Dr. Thompson was recognized for his visionary leadership in environmental stewardship for healthcare organizations.

According to a White House media advisory, "The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities."

Dr. Thompson is the CEO of Gundersen Health System, headquartered in La Crosse, Wis., and serving 19 counties in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Under his leadership, the healthcare organization is poised to become energy independent in 2014.

"As a healthcare organization, it is our responsibility to not only take care of patients in a hospital or clinic, but to help our patients and communities stay well. Part of that is caring for the health of the environment," Dr. Thompson says.

"Dr. Thompson is a national leader in demonstrating how hospitals can kick their addiction to fossil fuels and save money while continuing to provide the highest quality of care. The health system is also a critical partner in building a healthier and more vibrant community. Gundersen's model is one that we are trying to replicate around the country through the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, in which Gundersen is one of the sponsors," says Gary Cohen, the founder and president of Healthier Hospitals Initiative.

A handful of highlights of Gundersen's Envision program include:

  • Achieving $1.3 million in annual saving as a 25 percent energy improvement through energy conservation efforts.
  • A project in partnership with La Crosse County, Wis., that uses waste biogas from a garbage landfill and turns it into electricity and heat for one of Gundersen's campuses, making the campus 100 percent energy independent.
  • A biomass boiler project that uses clean, locally-sourced wood byproducts from the lumber industry and represents 38 percent of Gundersen's energy independence goal.
  • A wind turbine project in Cashton, Wis., in partnership with Organic Valley and the village of Cashton that provides enough electricity for 1,000 homes.
  • A 38 percent recycling rate of its solid waste stream in 2012.

"Our goals at Gundersen are to decrease emissions and save healthcare dollars. Along the way, our hope is to inspire others not only in our community, but across the nation and show them what can be achieved if we all work together," Dr. Thompson says, adding, "The Champions of Change award is an honor not just for me, but for the thousands of Gundersen staff members who have dedicated themselves to creating a healthier environment for our patients and the communities we serve."
To learn more about Gundersen Envision, go to

A photo accompanying this release is available at

Thompson, Jeff MD_20090910


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