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Mercy Iowa City voices concern over University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics proposed North Liberty hospital

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 10:35 PM CST
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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics proposed building a $230 million facility in North Liberty in 2020.

The hospital said this would allow them to meet the need locally and across the state, but other hospital leaders said there was no shortage in the area, and UIHC wasn’t playing fairly.

“Capacity that exists in the corridor now between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids is more than ample to meet, not only the current need but the growing need over the next several years,” said Mercy Iowa City President Sean Williams.

Williams said the intersection between the private and the public sector in this wasn’t fair.

“If the lack of level playing field ultimately causes there to be limited choices, and we were unable to serve our mission, then I believe patients will have suffered as a result,” he said.

Currently, North Liberty does have two urgent care centers, but not the 4-story, 36-bed facility UIHC has proposed. UIHC gave TV9 this statement:

To better serve the growing health care needs of Iowans, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is following the state’s Certificate of Need process to obtain approval for construction of a general acute care hospital in North Liberty.

UI Health Care first publicly shared the need for this project in a February 2020 Board of Regents meeting. The proposed hospital will be a four-story building with up to 36 inpatient rooms, up to 16 operating rooms, an emergency department, and advanced ancillary services including imaging, laboratory, and pharmacy.

“UI Hospitals & Clinics continues to experience unprecedented demand for its services, and patients from across the state continue to travel to Iowa City for the complex care needs that only we can satisfy,” says Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of UI Hospitals & Clinics. “We are confident that the addition of a North Liberty facility will help us meet the needs of Iowans both locally and from across the state.”

The estimated construction costs for the hospital will be $230 million. The proposed hospital will be funded by financing and revenue from patient care. Facility construction at UI Hospitals & Clinics is not funded by tax dollars.

However, Dr. Stephen Scheckel with Mercy Iowa City said a new facility wouldn’t solve increased wait times.

“Our emergency department can handle that overflow of patients,” he said. “There’s a disincentive that’s built into the system that’s preventing them from coming over and taking advantage of the care we provide.”

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