U of Iowa wins certificate of need for $230M hospital despite objections

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics' plan to build a $230 million hospital received a key approval from a state council Aug. 31 despite mounting opposition, according to The Gazette

The five-member Iowa State Health Facilities Council voted 4-1 to grant a certificate of need to the Iowa City-based health system. 

​​This was University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics second time seeking approval for the North Liberty facility. It was narrowly denied in February.

The revised application increased the North Liberty facility's square footage from 216,180 to 280,330 square feet and the number of inpatient beds it plans to relocate from its main campus from 36 to 48. The new application also specifies that the beds are not new licensed beds, just shifted beds. 

Since the revised application was submitted, the Iowa board has received more than 80 letters of opposition and nearly 70 letters of support for the new project. For the first application, the council received 53 letters of opposition and 27 of support. 

A majority of the new application's opposition letters are from providers or affiliates of Mercy Iowa City, MercyOne in West Des Moines, Iowa, and UnityPoint Health in Des Moines, Iowa.

"If approved, this would be the most expensive hospital in the state’s history," according to a media advisory MercyOne shared with The Gazette. "UIHC is again asking for approval to build an expensive, taxpayer-funded hospital which would duplicate services in the region and unnecessarily compete with community hospitals."

Despite the objections, the health system now has the state permission it needs to proceed building the hospital.

"We are thankful for the patients, city leaders, referring hospitals, business owners, and other community members who provided nearly 70 letters of support and testimonials," Suresh Gunasekaran, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics CEO, told The Gazette. "Your support of our application helped illustrate our unique, statewide impact and our significant need for more capacity. We look forward to continuing to care for all Iowans and partnering with community hospitals across the state."

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