116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Mercy Medical Center has announced plans for a new cardiovascular care center as part of the hospital’s goal to expand its heart program.
Hospital officials have not released the cost to build the new 72,000-square-foot facility on a plot of land at Ninth Street SE and Eighth Avenue SE in downtown Cedar Rapids, across the street from Mercy’s main hospital entrance. It’s expected to open sometime in mid-2023.
The Heart Center will house Mercy’s heart care under one roof, said Dr. Timothy Quinn, chief of clinical operations at Mercy. Various services across the continuum of care — from prevention and screening to actual diagnosis and treatment — currently are housed across multiple locations.
“The underlying theme of all this, much like when we built the cancer center, is elevation of the level of care for the entire community,” Quinn said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2021.
Additional project details will be announced as the plan move forward, including the name of the donor behind the “extraordinarily generous” estate gift funding the project. Mercy officials did not disclose the size of the donation to The Gazette this week.
Officials described development of the Heart Center as a natural progression of the “tremendous growth” in its heart program in recent years, from the increasing number of cardiac patients from Cedar Rapids and outlying communities.
“Over the course of many years, we’ve focused on establishing the area’s leading heart program; emphasizing quality outcomes, increasing access, enhancing the patient experience and advancing technology and procedures,” Tim Charles, Mercy’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “With the growth we’ve experienced, now is the time for this next step as we combine our efforts into a new heart center and bring our resources under one roof.”
The new facility will provide the space to accommodate that growth, and to allow officials to continue adding to the program, Dr. C.C. Lee, co-medical director of the Heart Center of Mercy, said in the statement.
In the long-term, the facility plans are “designed for vertical expansion,” opening the door for further development. That can include additional electrophysiology, cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites currently available in the main hospital location, officials said.
As new technologies become available, that future growth is likely to include more outpatient services, Quinn said.
Expansion of the heart program includes hiring of a new cardiothoracic surgeon, who will start later this summer. Mercy officials still determining the number of new hires with this facility, Quinn said.
Mercy also will increase the number of specialty clinics with the construction of this new facility, including clinics for heart failure, Atrial fibrillation and heart valve disorders, officials said.
Quinn pointed to cardio-oncology as an example of an existing specialty clinic at Mercy. Providers established the clinic after they found a substantial number of post-cancer care patients go on to suffer from vascular disease in later years, most likely due to the cancer-related medications that increase the risk of heart disease.
Mercy’s multidisciplinary teams also are developing a follow-up clinic for patients recovering from COVID-19. Quinn said providers have found a number of these patients had undetected heart failure, but began showing symptoms after they were infected with the virus.
Plans for the new Heart Center also includes increased heart screenings and early detection services, as well as community education spaces for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training and other similar programming.
“We’re really excited about the potential for these types of patient engagement,” said Dr. Ryan Hollenbeck, co-medical director of the Heart Center at Mercy.
The announcement of the Heart Center of Mercy comes about five years after the hospital received state approval to launch an open heart surgery program. At the time, Mercy officials said it transferred 150 individuals each year to other facilities for cardiac procedures.
UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, which has a cardiovascular surgical program, opposed the new program.
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