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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has identified 77 more windows in its Stead Family Children’s Hospital that need an emergency safety film — costing another $771,516 — to keep from cracking or posing safety risks.
UI Health Care this week revealed the discovery of additional damaged windows in its 4-year-old, 14-story Children’s Hospital when it asked the state Board of Regents to approve emergency authorization of a contract with Marv’s Glass to apply more safety film.
Typically, the board must put out for public bid those projects expected to top $100,000 unless “a delay in undertaking a repair, restoration, or reconstruction of a public improvement might cause serious loss or injury,” according a portion of Iowa Code that UIHC cited in its request.
The new UIHC ask, which the board is scheduled to consider next week, comes after the university received approval in April to spend $10 to $15 million replacing two floors worth of delaminated or cracking windows — discovered in July 2019, just two years after the facility opened.
At the time of the proposal in April, UIHC reported it had installed “a protective film on all windows that have been identified as potential safety hazards to provide an additional margin of safety.” At the time, UIHC said it would actively monitor all windows — while a permanent solution is determined — and UI Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz told regents the hospital might discover more problem windows.
“The work that we're doing is wider than just the windows that are impacted,” Lehnertz said in April, adding, “We will continue to monitor and investigate any other occurrences. But it is not just the windows that are visibly damaged, but rather more widespread.”
Regents spokesman Josh Lehman confirmed for The Gazette this week that the 77 windows identified as needing a safety film — requiring the emergency authorization — are in addition to windows on floors 4 and 5 that UIHC in the spring said needed replacing.
Although the university hasn’t yet received that emergency authorization, it reported in regent documents that “Installation started in October 2021.”
UIHC declined to answer The Gazette’s questions about where the $10 to $15 million window-replacement project stands now; if the 77 additional windows are on different floors than those originally identified; how much UIHC has spent on the replacement so far; and if it has an overall timeline.
In April, the university reported it was looking into possible causes, including manufacturer and installation questions. Lehnertz said UIHC intends to “hold responsible the causing parties.” But officials didn’t answer questions this week about pursuing insurance or warranty coverage.
“As part of its commitment to a safe, high quality care environment, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics proactively performs regular monitoring and maintenance of its facilities,” UIHC officials said in a statement. “This monitoring identified an issue in the performance of some windows. UIHC immediately took steps to install protective film, conduct expanded monitoring of the windows, and replace windows as needed.”
The Gazette reported in April that UIHC had paid a consultant nearly $1 million to assess the damage and offer solutions. It also, at that time, already had paid Marv’s Glass, of Iowa City, $577,751 to install film.
Those costs, officials said, were included in the $10 to $15 million replacement project, which pushed an already ballooning Children’s Hospital budget to $407 million — $137 million over its original $270 million budget.
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