DARLINGTON, Wis. — Southwest Health announced plans Wednesday to open a new specialty clinic in Darlington.

The new clinic will offer vision and dental care, with the possibility of adding other specialties later. It is set to open in late 2023 or early 2024, depending on construction speed and other logistics.

“I think it’ll be good for the town, gives more opportunities for people,” Darlington Mayor Mike McDermott said. “It’s growth, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

The clinic will be located on Wisconsin 81 near Tama Run Lane. Site prep and utility work are planned to start later this year, with construction beginning in full in spring 2023.

The new location will replace Southwest Health’s existing eye clinic, currently located on Main Street. In addition to continuing vision services, the health care system will partner with Cuba City Family Dental to provide dental care.

Southwest Health Marketing Specialist Abbey Droessler said opening a larger space for more community care has been the plan since Southwest Health purchased the vision center in 2020.

“There’s people traveling to Platteville, Madison or to Dubuque (for specialty care),” she said. “So this clinic is a great, in-between option.”

Droessler said it has not yet been determined exactly how many people the location will employ but that the clinic will be staffed through a mix of current Southwest Health employees and external hiring.

In addition to building the clinic, Southwest Health also will be developing lots on the 12-acre plot for other businesses to purchase. Droessler said she could not confirm which or what types of businesses would fill the lots.

McDermott said the project will be a boon for Darlington by bringing in additional tax revenue and increasing commercial space close to the highway. He added that several businesses already have expressed interest in the area adjacent to the clinic.

“Costs for (the city) to develop something like that would be very high dollars, and they’re going to do it for us,” McDermott said. “Of course, (Southwest Health) will sell the lots, … but we’ll get the extra tax money.”

Southwest Health and area officials both hope the location will increase local options for specialty medical care in a way that will benefit current residents as well as possibly attract new ones.

“Health care is a need and not a want,” said Lafayette County Economic Development Director Abby Haas. “If you can show those individuals looking to move to a more rural area and say, ‘Hey, we actually have all of the offerings you’re looking for,’ it can really help us market our community.”

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