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Medical Center Continues to Move Forward

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(This article originally appeared in the Jefferson Herald's 2015 Progress Report, an insert in the July 30 Herald.)

Moving forward has never been more important for health care facilities. Changes happen quickly, whether they be advancements in care methods, state-of-the-art equipment or patient expectations. All make a difference in how a medical facility adapts and responds.

Greene County Medical Center is proud to be moving forward with many initiatives. We are also proud to be a part of the tremendous growth and vitality currently happening in Greene County.

Since 1937 when our doors first opened, the medical center has been doing what was needed to care for our community. Changes throughout the years have been big and small – new and enhanced services, new providers and new construction – all necessary changes to meet the needs of our community.

In the last few years the medical center has had to adapt to the many changes in health care – state and federal guidelines and regulations, as well as federal reimbursement requirements. Large federal mandates like the Affordable Care Act have certainly impacted Greene County Medical Center, but patient needs, experiences and expectations have had equal impact on decisions made.

Most significant was the 2012 decision by the board of trustees to move forward with a $22.5 million dollar expansion and renovation project. This project, the largest in the medical center’s history, secured $20 million in direct and guaranteed loans from the USDA Rural Development’s community facilities program, which was awarded in the spring of 2012. Jefferson’s Home State Bank was essential in securing a portion of the guaranteed loan for the medical center.

An additional $2.5 million for fixtures, furnishings and equipment was secured through a combination of resources, including current medical center assets. The final financial component of the project was the implementation of a capital campaign, “Investing in Tomorrow’s Care,” which allows the medical center to replenish assets and have the potential to possibly move forward with other smaller renovations in the future. To date, the campaign, under the leadership of community members Rick Morain and John Gerken, has successfully raised $3,182,234 of their $4 million goal.

With a strong emphasis on privacy, access and efficiency, the 52,000 square foot expansion portion of the project is scheduled to open in the next 30 days and will house outpatient services including laboratory, imaging, respiratory care and two sleep study rooms. The new space is also home to a surgery unit with two surgery suites and eight private pre-/post-op patient rooms. The emergency department located immediately off Grimmell Road includes an ambulance entrance, helipad, 24/7 staffing and family/visitor waiting area.

A new obstetrics area has two labor/delivery/recovery/post partum (LDRP) suites and a secure nursery. Fifteen private acute care inpatient rooms make up the remaining new expansion space.

The next two phases of the project will happen simultaneously after current services are moved to their new space in the expansion area. These phases include renovation of the current acute inpatient area to accommodate many administrative offices as well as educational, conference and board rooms.

Level A, where laboratory, imaging and surgery are now located, will be renovated to enlarge and enhance the medical center’s clinics – West Central Orthopedics and Advanced Women’s Care – as well as 21st Century Rehab. Cardiac rehab services will also be offered on this level. Additional clinic space is being designed for the many new specialists who are joining the medical center team of providers. Plus, the new UnityPoint Clinic will remain on the west end of the clinic level.

A new main walkway along the south side of the current facility will be the primary thoroughfare for patients and visitors.

Day-to-day management of the expansion and renovation project is overseen by Stockton Facility Management Services of Knoxville, Iowa. HGA Architects and Engineers of Rochester, Minnesota, are responsible for design development and Woodruff Construction of Fort Dodge, Iowa, is the general contractor.

Completion of the total project is anticipated to be summer of 2016.

While the expansion and renovation project is clearly the most visible progress the medical center is making from a street view, patients are finding all kinds of service enhancements within the current walls.

The medical center has enhanced services since it opened its doors. Whether it was the three-story wing addition in 1951, adding the coronary care unit in 1971, building a new medical office building to accommodate physician and provider clinics in 1991, or doing significant remodeling in Long Term Care in 1994, the medical center has been adding space and services as needed by the communities in its service area.

The enhancements and additions being made today can be seen in provider availability and specialty clinic offerings. In early 2014, the medical center announced it would be welcoming UnityPoint Clinic to the campus. The UnityPoint Clinic partnership is part of the medical center’s strategic plan to ensure health care providers and coordinated health care services are available in Greene County for decades to come.

With their opening on May 18, 2015, it quickly became apparent that UnityPoint Clinic shares the medical center’s goal of providing high quality care right here in the community, in collaboration with the medical center. These increased efficiencies and improved care coordination services are now available at the medical center for all patients.

On opening day, provider Sara Fleecs, ARNP, and staff began seeing patients immediately and her practice continues to expand. Additional providers are being recruited and will be added as patient volumes dictate.

According to CEO Carl Behne, “UnityPoint Clinic is well established throughout Iowa and has the resources and depth of providers and services to offer high-quality, community-based care, thereby benefiting all those served by Greene County Medical Center.”

The addition of UnityPoint Clinic has opened the doors for many new specialists wanting to set up monthly clinic visits at the medical center.

In the past six months the medical center has added the much-needed services of an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist in Dr. Tracey Wellendorf, of Wellendorf ENT in Carroll, Iowa. Urologist Dr. Richard Sazama, of Carroll, has also joined the medical center’s team of specialists.

Most recently, it was announced that the medical center has partnered with oncologist Dr. Matthew Hill of Medical Oncology and Hematology Associates (MOHA) of Des Moines. Dr. Hill will provide full oncology and hematology care, including chemotherapy, as part of the medical center’s new oncology/hematology clinic. He will begin seeing patients on August 4 and will be scheduling patients the first and third Tuesdays of every month.

And then on August 11, pulmonary/sleep medicine specialist Dr. James C. Meyer, of UnityPoint Clinic – Pulmonology in Fort Dodge, is scheduled to begin seeing patients in Jefferson.

In September, cardiologist Dr. Craig Stark with UnityPoint Clinic – Cardiology in Des Moines will start monthly clinics in Jefferson.

The medical center has long had specialty clinics for dermatology, hepatology, orthodontia, plastic surgery, vascular surgery and general surgery. When this long list of specialists is combined with the medical center’s own Dr. David Jaskey, OB/GYN, midwife Valerie Martin, ARNP (both with Advanced Women’s Care) and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Wahl (with West Central Orthopedics), the medical center is offering the community a lot of health care under its roof.

All of these specialists allow for patients to be cared for close to where they live. According to Behne, “We are thrilled to be offering so many specialists in Jefferson. This kind of accessibility to health care services is integral to a healthy and growing community such as ours.”

And that healthy and growing community is made in part by the economic impact the medical center has on the community.

The 2015 Iowa Hospital Association’s economic impact of the health sector for Iowa shows Greene County Medical Center having an employment impact of 411 (direct and indirect jobs) resulting in a payroll impact of $16,131,494 for the county. When all other health related jobs in the area – essentially viable in one way or the other because of the medical center – are considered, that economic impact jumps to 621 employees, with a payroll impact of $24,340,081. These figures make the medical center’s presence extremely important to the county. We want to live up to that important role and keep moving it forward.

Of course, much of our economic impact starts with our employees, and we take seriously our role as one of the county’s largest employers. With the employment opportunities in the county increasing with new businesses, we’ve monitored closely any potential loss of employees and have seen very little. We believe this is a testimony to the positive work environment at the medical center. Employees like their jobs here. We appreciate that happy, engaged employees are good care givers.

Providing safe, quality health care in our community is our focus now and will be far into the future. Our medical center campus is open 24/7, 365 days a year – caring for patients when they need to be cared for by providers and specialists who are committed to caring for patients close to home.