Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – 3 years ago, a fire destroyed one Chippewa Valley eye clinic.

Kathy Sipple took the hour trip home one November night in 2019.

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

That would be the Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic and Optical. She drove straight back to Eau Claire to join neighbors of the clinic watching the fire destroy the building.

“And it was very cold. And of course, we stood and watched as the clinic was burning down. It seemed a little bit like a dream for something like that to happen so quickly. 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 move into not just one, but two clinical spaces right by HSHS sacred heart.

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

Now, with two new places to work out of, it was time to rebuild the clinic. Sipple says what 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.”

However, there were some bumps in 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, and everything was stopped for close to a year and a half.”

But now in 2023, the new building is ready to go. Sipple says the new Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic and Optical is about twice the size of the original building and took about 8 million dollars to build it. With the extra space comes more exam rooms. More eye doctors and more optical services.

“It still seems very surreal for all of us to be in one building again.”

Sipple says she and the clinic staff are grateful for the community support over the past three years. Sipple also says that the eye clinic should be up and running at full speed again today.