Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic & Optical is back where it once burned down

Published: Mar. 26, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A Chippewa Valley clinic is back in the same spot where it once burned down more than 3 years in Eau Claire.

Kathy Sipple is an administrator with the Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic & Optical. She said she was home, and hour away from the city, on the night of November 7th, 2019.

“So, I had just gotten home. We were eating supper when I got a call from an employee who said that the clinic is on fire,” said Sipple.

After finding out the clinic was on fire she drove straight back to Eau Claire to join the clinic’s neighbors in watching the building being destroyed by the fire.

“And it was very very cold. And of course we stood an watched as the clinic was burning down. It seemed a little bit like a dream for something like that to happen so quickly,” said Sipple. “Without any kind of a forewarning whatsoever. There were a lot of tears from people who had been going there for many years.”

Once the smoke settled, it was time to figure out what was next.

Luckily for the clinic staff, they were able to moved into not just one, but two clinical spaces right by HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital.

“That clinic was not going to be quite large enough for all of us to accommodate. So, the building next door was also vacant,” said Sipple.

Now, with two places to work out of it was time to rebuild the clinic.

Sipple said there was no better place than where it once stood.

“And I think the patients are used to this area. So, we felt that this was the most important place to be,” said Sipple.

However, there were some bumps on the road to rebuilding.

“We had already started working with a builder and an architect to start working on this rebuild. But then COVID hit. Everything was stopped for close to a year and a half,” said Sipple.

But now in 2023, the new building is ready to go.

Sipple said the new Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic & Optical is about twice the size of the original building and took about $8 Million to build it.

With the extra space comes more exam rooms, more eye doctors and more optical services.

“It’s still seems very surreal for all of us to be in one building again,” said Sipple.

She and the clinic staff said they are grateful for all the community support over the past 3 years.

The clinic is expected to be back to full operation in the coming days, ready to take on all their patients.