Newstrack: Eastern Iowa Health Center expansion on time and on budget

Clinic CEO anticipates Oct. 5 move-in date

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In early April, the staff of the Eastern Iowa Health Center packed up its belongings and moved to a temporary location at 600 Seventh St. SE. The Federally Qualified Health Center — a special designation given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to clinics that work with an underserved population — is expanding its facility at 1201 Third Ave SE.

The primary care clinic is increasing the number of exam rooms by 25 percent, updating for Americans With Disabilities Act compliance and enhancing the overall look of the facility.

What’s happened since

Joe Lock, chief executive officer of the Eastern Iowa Health Center, said the clinic’s expansion is “on time and on budget,” with a forecast move in date of Oct 5. Ryan Companies and OPN Architects are leading the $1.9 million project.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Lock said. “You know, everyone deserves a great place to go to the doctor, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

The clinic provides primary care and OB-GYN services to low-income Linn County residents, in addition to disease management for diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension.

Before the renovation, Lock said about 42 percent of the facility was dedicated to office space. Once the remodeling is complete, about 95 percent of the facility will be used for patient interaction — health coaches, social workers, nurse practitioners and doctors.

All administrative staff will be moved off-site to maximize use, Lock said.

This is a necessary move, Lock said, because patient encounters — interactions between a patient and health care providers — jumped 63 percent from 2014 to 2015, increasing from 24,273 to 39,594.

“We’re already making plans for the move in,” Lock said. “It took us three days to move (into the temporary location), but I’m anticipating in it will only take two days to move back.”

The clinic has hired an outside company to help move it back into its Seventh Street SE location, but Lock said much like the April transition, the October move will be an all-hands-on-deck activity.

It doesn’t matter what letters are behind your name, everyone pitches in those days,” he said.

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