Sean Williams

Administrators of Mercy Iowa City hospital say they oppose a plan by the University of Iowa Health Care to build a new hospital in nearby North Liberty.

Mercy Iowa City CEO Sean Williams says the facility would duplicate services already provided. “The latest proposal by the university to build a 230 million dollar facility in North Liberty — which is just eight miles from their main campus — is unnecessary, and more importantly we believe would be harmful to all the hospitals in the region,” Willams.

Williams says another hospital built at taxpayers expense isn’t needed. “If approved by the Health Facitilies Council, this would make this proposal the third government-owned facility in Johnson County. It would also make it the third hospital within a ten-mile radius, and the twelfth hospital or health care facility in our region,” according to Williams. “As commuity health care leaders, we are experiencing the significant financial impacts of the pandemic. As well as changes in the state’s health care plan,which financially penalize U-I health care workers and retirees from seeking care outside the university.”

Williams says the two entities had always worked well together until the change in the health care plan. He says they will oppose the plan when it comes before the state board next week.

“I strongly encourage the Health Facitilies Council to deny this request and instead focus on helping all of healthcare rebuild after the devastating impact of the pandemic,” Williams says. “This facility is very expensive. It will simply realign and reallocate resources that are already in our region, and it will put it in a very high cost setting. Not just the capital expenditure to build the building — but the care that is going to be provided afterwards.”

He says the U-I provides very important specialty services and only wants to build the new facility to steal market share from other facilities. “If this new hospital is built — it will have a devastating impact on healthcare throughout the corridor region — not just Mercy Iowa City…..these are bread and butter services if you will that community hospitals provide, that they focus on that are currently being provided at a very high level,” Williams says.

U-I CEO, Suresh Gunasekaran issued a statement saying: “U-I 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. 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 statement goes on to say that the proposed hospital will be funded by financing and revenue from patient care and is not funded by tax dollars. It says we respect there will be different perspectives on the proposed project and will address any concerns during the Certificate of Need process. We look forward to providing more information once there is an update on the application process.

The state board will consider the U-I’s request next Wednesday.