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Watch Now: Madonna breaks ground on largest expansion in history
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Watch Now: Madonna breaks ground on largest expansion in history


If you want to know how important Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital is to Lincoln and the state as a whole, all you had to do was listen to the personal stories of dignitaries who spoke Friday at the official groundbreaking for the hospital's $57 million expansion.

Tony Goins, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, said his daughter spent time there after a car crash in North Carolina.

"She would not be where she is today without Madonna," Goins said.

Dan Vokoun, vice president of Sampson Construction, said both his mother and daughter had stays at Madonna.

Wade Stange, principal at Davis Design, told the story of how one of his former partners rehabbed there after a fall.

And Lt. Gov. Mike Foley talked about a staffer at the Nebraska Legislature who survived a horrific car crash and worked his way back to full functionality with the help of Madonna.

The rehabilitation center has been helping people from Nebraska and nearly every other state for more than 60 years, and some parts of its campus are in need of significant modernization.

So Madonna is embarking on the largest expansion project in its history. It includes a new 112,000-square-foot patient wing that will be added to the southwest side of the existing 460,000-square-foot hospital at 5401 South St.

The three-story addition will have 59 new, bigger, more-modern patient rooms that will replace ones that were built in the 1970s.

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"Simply put, the expansion will create a state-of-the-art campus that finally matches our national reputation," said Paul Dongilli Jr., Madonna president and CEO.

When the project was announced in December, Madonna officials said they hoped to break ground in the spring. Though Friday was the official groundbreaking, there already has been some site preparation work done.

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Dongilli said the project has not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and is still on track with the original schedule.

The new addition is expected to be complete and patient rooms open early in 2022. The entire project, which also involves remodeling the old patient rooms into storage and support space and a new therapy gym, is scheduled to be complete by January 2023. The project also includes a new main entrance for the campus.

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall called the expansion "a world-class facility being built in our backyard."

Madonna is financing the project itself and has reserves to pay for about 80% of the project. Dongilli said the results of a capital campaign to raise the rest of the money will be announced during the grand opening.

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The construction, design and engineering of the project are being done by Lincoln firms. In addition to Sampson Construction and Davis Design, Olsson also is involved in the project.

Vokoun, who's also chairman of the Madonna Foundation board of directors, encouraged those at Friday's groundbreaking to come back when the project is finished.

"It's going to be great," he said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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