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The state council that earlier this year denied the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics a certificate it needs to build a new $230 million facility in North Liberty is delaying its consideration of a renewed UIHC application for the project after one of its five members resigned this week.
Carol Earnhardt, one of the three members who voted against the UIHC project in February, on Wednesday submitted her resignation from the State Health Facilities Council effective immediately, according to Rebecca Swift, with the state’s Certificate of Need Program.
Given Gov. Kim Reynolds now must appoint a replacement — who must be trained and brought up to speed on the applications — the council is postponing its public hearing on the UIHC application, which was supposed to happen during a July meeting.
“The council will provide notice of the new hearing date as expeditiously as possible, with a possible meeting date in August or September depending on appointment status,” Swift said.
After seven hours of heated public testimony and discussion in February — including from community health care providers asserting the UIHC project would put them out of existence — the State Health Facilities Council by a narrow 2-3 margin voted down UIHC’s application.
The university has resubmitted an application for a proposed 280,330-square-foot facility equipped to house up to 48 inpatient beds for complex patients, incorporate 16 operating suites, and expand its space-constrained main campus’ surgical, imaging, laboratory, and emergency room services.
UIHC executives are characterizing the project as an expansion of its main campus in Iowa City — but far the shadow of Kinnick Stadium on 60 acres of land it owns on the southwest corner of Forevergreen Road and Highway 965 in North Liberty.
The new lengthy application stresses UIHC also is working to collaborate with community partners and maximize its use of the main campus in serving the state’s sickest and most complex patients — those other providers can’t care for.
Opponents — including community hospitals and health care providers — have said UIHC is swerving out of its lane with this proposal, threatening to take more of their patients and drive them out of business.
The UIHC’s first application submitted in December proposed completing the project in early 2024, but the February rejection pushed the timeline in its follow-up application to the end of that calendar year, with services becoming available in the second quarter of 2025.
It’s unclear how another delay might affect the project timeline.
Members of the State Health Facilities Council serve six-year terms. Earnhardt’s term was to expire in April 2025.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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