Health

University of Iowa building rehab hospital in Coralville in partnership with Encompass Health

$27 million in-patient facility to open in June

UIHC is partnering with Encompass Health to build a new 40-bed rehabilitation inpatient hospital in Coralville, set to o
UIHC is partnering with Encompass Health to build a new 40-bed rehabilitation inpatient hospital in Coralville, set to open June 2020. (Rendering courtesy UIHC)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Health Care, through one of its subsidiaries, is partnering with a national health care enterprise to build a new 40-bed rehabilitation in-patient hospital in Coralville, currently under construction with plans to open in June.

The $27 million venture — which will be called University of Iowa Health Network Rehabilitation Hospital — is being built on the southwest corner of Oakdale Boulevard and Coral Court in Coralville, according to UIHC Marketing and Communications.

The facility — in partnership with Birmingham, Ala.-based Encompass Health — is designed to serve patients recovering from a swath of illnesses and injuries, including strokes, other neurological disorders, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations and complex orthopedic conditions.

The hospital also will offer physical, occupational and speech therapy, and 24-hour nursing care. An earlier news release from Encompass reports the facility will include 40 private patient rooms, a large therapy gym, a dining room, in-house pharmacy, courtyard and an “activities-of-daily-living suite.”

The official UIHC entity partnering with Encompass on the project is UI Health System — a not-for-profit created to support UIHC clinical, academic and research programs. The project is pitched as a 50-50 partnership, but UIHC did not immediately release details on how much of the $27 million capital cost would come from the UI Health System budget.

It also was not immediately known whether the Board of Regents must approve the partnership.

Encompass — which offers both facility- and home-based patient care across 37 states and Puerto Rico via 133 hospitals, 245 home health locations and 83 hospice units — will maintain management and financial control of the new Coralville facility, according to a UIHC presentation prepared for the Board of Regents.

Encompass, according to the board presentation, will build the facility and provide support staff, information technology infrastructure and day-to-day management.

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UIHC faculty will support the facility “by a closed medical staff model.” It also will provide “limited ancillary services,” according to the presentation.

UIHC Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine Brooks Jackson in a statement called the collaboration “good for Iowans who need an inpatient rehabilitation level of care.”

“It means more patient care at the right place at the right time, and for the right cost, to achieve the right outcome,” he said.

UI Health Network is a new brand assigned to entities owned 50 percent or less by UI Health System, and this new hospital is the first time that network brand is being used, according to UI officials.

The collaboration, according to board documents, will allow UIHC to “improve clinical outcomes and operational performance,” with specific focus on improving patient flow-through, length of stay, and readmission rates.

The new hospital also aims to improve efficiency through the use of proprietary systems and clinical tools designed specifically for rehab care, home care and post-acute solutions.

UI Health Care — which has been reporting a surging demand for its services of late — has an 850-bed main hospital in Iowa City. Last year, UIHC had more than 30,000 inpatients and nearly 1 million outpatient visits — with most coming from outside Johnson County, often via transfer from another hospital with complex health concerns.

The surge in demand has driven up emergency room wait times, calls for new-patient appointments and requests for outpatient surgical services.

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A full hospital means longer patient stays in the emergency department, with average stints lasting nearly six hours — up from just more than four hours in 2015, according to a UIHC report to the regents.

The average UIHC midnight in-patient census reached 580 in 2019, up from 509 in 2015.

UIHC officials have mapped out a “game plan to improve operations,” including expanding bed capacity, increasing clinical staffing in high-volume areas and looking for opportunities to “shift low-acuity patients to a more appropriate care facility,” according to board documents.

That game plan also lists partnerships with “post-acute providers” and innovation in community options — such as its UI Quick Care clinics, urgent care facilities and family medicine locations.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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