First look at Kaukauna's new health center

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WBAY) - A project years in the making is nearing its finish line. Thursday, we were given a firsthand look at how a major construction project is coming along in Kaukauna.

Exterior entrance of the Aurora BayCare Health Center under construction in Kaukauna (WBAY photo)

"We can start to see the end of the road so we thought it'd be good to take people through," Chris Augustian, chairman of Aurora BayCare Medical Center, said.

As Action 2 News first reported in 2018, the Aurora BayCare Health Center is going up at the site of the former Kaukauna dog track. The land by Interstate 41 and Highway 55 has been mostly vacant for decades. Today it is seeing new life.

We walked through the medical center, and with 75,000 square feet, it is massive. While there is still a ways to go before it's ready for patients, people on Thursday's tours got to envision all it will bring to Kaukauna's community once it's open.

The space will have primary and specialty care, operating rooms, urgent care and a pharmacy, among other services.

"It's kind of a one-stop shop for everything," Augustian said.

Many on the tour, like Kaukauna Mayor Tony Penterman, were impressed by what they saw.

"I think it looks great. It's going to be a beautiful facility once it's done in the summer of 2020," the mayor said. "Just can't wait for it to open."

Neither can the many patients who currently have to travel to Green Bay.

"About ten percent of the patients that end up in Green Bay at our facility travel out of this marketplace," Augustian said, "so if we can keep nearly all of them in this location, it will be less travel for them, recovery closer to home."

But the mayor's vision goes beyond the walls of the medical center and towards Kaukauna's economy.

"Hoping this spurs some development out here in Commerce Crossing. I believe it will with the facility and all the amenities that will come with the facility. I just think this land will pop out here once it opens," Penterman said.

Regardless of why people want the medical center open, people are excited to see how close it's getting.

"It is exciting. The project itself started three -- probably three or four years ago, and once we approved it, got the city to approve it, purchased the land, it's been moving very rapidly, but it's been, it's been a long time in the making," Augustian said.