Health

New Physicians' Clinic of Iowa building open to patients

$28 million, three-story medical building first proposed in 2017

PCI CEO Mike Sundall in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
PCI CEO Mike Sundall in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa has completed work on its new $28 million expansion project and officially opened its doors to patients on Monday.

The Cedar Rapids-based private, multi-specialty physicians group completed construction on the new three-story, 100,000-square-foot medical building at 275 10th St. SE, just across the street from the original PCI Medical Pavilion, in mid-January.

The building, called Medical Pavilion II, marks a major milestone in PCI’s nearly 25-year history. The construction was the first major project PCI has taken on since officials opened its Medical Pavilion in 2013, which permanently closed part of Second Avenue SE.

Officials estimated the new building would see between 600 and 800 patients a day, in addition to the more than 2,000 patients and their family members from a 30-county area who visit PCI daily.

PCI has about 300 staff members, but with this new expansion, officials expect to hire another 200 staff members, including physicians, in the near future.

“This building gives us a chance to really put some services over there that are wanting to and needing to grow,” PCI President and CEO Michael Sundall said.

The project also included a $9.5 million, 450-space parking garage adjacent to the new Medical Pavilion II. The garage, completed earlier this year, connects both buildings via skywalks.

a ‘medical mall’ concept

PCI’s expansion project faced criticism when it first was proposed, in 2017, particularly from historic preservation advocates who decried the plan to demolish one of the original Cedar Rapids “mansions” on Third Avenue SE, on the site of the proposed construction.

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Despite the backlash, the new building signals to PCI officials that their strategy has been working, enabling the multi-specialty group to grow at a rate that initially had been unprecedented.

“Our volume has expanded more than we thought it would,” Sundall said. “We’ve exceeded every projection.”

PCI’s move into the new building fits into officials’ goal to achieve a “medical mall” concept, which Sundall described “a hospital, but without the beds.” Their premise — both in its initial construction and in this newest expansion project — was to build a regional, specialty referral medical center “where we bring the service to the patient.”

“The beauty of that is that’s where our biggest growth is,” Sundall said. “We get double appointments, where the husband from Manchester will come down to get his appointment with the cardiologist and the wife is following up on her urology problem down in the urology department.

“We can schedule multiple appointments side by side,” Sundall continued. “All of the services are right here. That’s what patients really like.”

At PCI, Sundall said planners organized provider locations within the new building based on how complementary a service was to another.

The third floor of Medical Pavilion II, for example, will house the neurology office as well as a new tenant, the Eastern Iowa Sleep Center.

PCI’s neurologists staff the center, which was formed in 2007 as an independent diagnostic facility through a partnership with PCI, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.

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PCI’s business office, which previously was located in office space owned by Mercy Medical, now is relocated to the third floor.

The second floor has become home to PCI’s imaging department, vascular surgery, podiatry and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The first floor is housing the group’s primary care services that were first offered in January 2018 — a department that Sundall hope will be “one of our biggest growth areas.” The department currently has two primary care physicians, four nurse practitioners and one physician assistant.

Not only does data show Eastern Iowa has a need for additional primary care physicians, Sundall said, but also to help PCI remain competitive against local hospitals.

“We’re recruiting new doctors as we speak,” he said. “... With our primary care, we’re not trying to have it be ‘traditional.’ When we look at primary care providers, we’re looking for those with subspecialties. For example, we’ve recently hired a couple of nurse practitioners who have a subspecialty in mental health.”

Medical Pavilion II has about 20,000 square feet available for lease, ideally to other providers or medical-focused companies.

Future expansion

Even with this milestone, PCI is not done looking to the future, Sundall said. When the master plan for the newest expansion was drawn up, it also included a potential third building and parking garage across Third Avenue SE.

Sundall said that expansion is not likely to happen any time soon, and depends on whether the Medical Pavilion II is outgrown.

However, Sundall is looking at evolving technology as a game changer for services offered by PCI specialists. As officials have shifted space in both buildings, they are making room for new in-office surgery suites in the Medical Pavilion.

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“We’re doing procedures in the office now that we didn’t even think of when I started here 12 years ago,” he said. “It’s a new market.”

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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