The UIHC building approved by the Regents. (UIHC photo)

The Board of Regents today approved plans for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to build a facility in North Liberty that includes a hospital that local health officials spoke out against.

CEO Suresh Gunasekaran told the Regents the hospital is part of a double building. The right-hand side of it is a hospital and on the left-hand side of it is an academic and clinic building. Together the proposed budget is 395 million,” Gunesakaran says.

The State Health Facilities Council approved the plan on a 4-1 vote after voting 3-2 against the plan in February. The administrators at other hospitals in the area argued the new hospital will expand beyond specialty care and take away their patients.

Gunasekaran’s presentation to the Board of Regents mirrored his remarks in the State Health Facilities hearing. “The justification for this building is the continued need for expanded clinical care at U-I Healthcare. As well as the need, every time we expand our clinical capacity, to also expand our academic capacity,” he says.

A member of the board asked Gunasekaran how they were going to avoid the cost overruns of millions of dollars when they built the U-I Children’s Hospital. He says they have put several safeguards in place to try and prevent that from happening. “One such feature is the construction manager at risk. Where one outside party is responsible for the total scope of the project and managing all of the component parts,” according to Gunasakeran. “We also took it one further step to allow that manager to participate in the design process and the development of the budget.”

He says they’re also getting input from those on campus. Gunasekaran says they’ve collaborated with the University of Iowa Design and Construction Services throughout the entire process — which he says is different than the last time. A University of Iowa spokesman says this building is out in the open — which makes construction easier. Construction is expected to begin later this month, with completion in 2025.