UnityPoint: ‘Health care best when delivered locally’

T-R FILE PHOTO n May 1, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health-Waterloo Pam Delagardelle spoke to an overflow crowd of UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown, UnityPoint employees from three states, and local residents in the hospital’s conference room. The independent, and former Central Iowa Healthcare, which had served Central Iowans for more than 100 years, was officially part of the UnityPoint network.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles on Unity-Point Health-Waterloo’s purchase of Central Iowa Healthcare in federal bankruptcy court. UnityPoint took possession May 1, and the series examines changes made, and what the future holds. The first article published July 3.

“It is a new day for healthcare in Marshalltown,” said UnityPoint Health-Waterloo President and Chief Executive Officer Pam Delagardelle on May 1. “At midnight, Central Iowa Healthcare became UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown.”

Her enthusiastic comments were made before a standing room crowd of UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown staff, and UnityPoint employees from Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin in the local hospital’s conference room.

Delagardelle, a former nurse and 30-year veteran of the health care industry, was front and center along with Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance and others for a noon session, one of four offered to acquaint local employees with new ownership. UnityPoint is a large, corporate, not-for profit health care provider in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, with 30,000 employees and 900 doctors and specialists.

Local decisions

“Health care is best when delivered locally,” is a UnityPoint mantra.

Such was reinforced in a recent meeting with UnityPoint Health Marshalltown President Dustin Wright, joined by Regional Marketing Communication Director Laura Rainey of Cedar Rapids, and Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist Josh Green of the local hospital. Wright and Rainey emphasized UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown has authority to make local health care decisions despite being owned by UnityPoint Health-Waterloo.

They also said funds earmarked for the local Foundation-UnityPoint Health Marshalltown will stay in Marshalltown.

Cardiac Cath Lab change

After a significant amount of local fundraising, the award-winning facility opened with great fanfare in 2007. However, UnityPoint Health-Waterloo announced in May it was evaluating the cardiac cath lab, and changed from 24/7 care to limited hours per month to better utilize resources.

“It is a beautiful facility,” said Wright. “It is going to be open and we are going to add services. We had to look at times when it is not being utilized, and how much it cost to staff. It was a decision to re-invest those dollars into the Cath Lab and other programs. We felt comfortable from a clinical quality perspective that our EMS team was just recognized with a national award from the American Heart Association for our in the field STEMI care, leading to quality results for our patients. Had we felt we could not have delivered that kind of service, those kind of decisions (to adjust the Cath Lab schedule) would not be made. We are still delivering optimal care.”

What of downtown?

UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown operates two campuses — one downtown and its Medical Park (the former CIH Outpatient Center) across from Marshalltown Community College. The 49-bed hospital, a clinic, cardiac cath lab and emergency department are downtown.

Since CIH opened its outpatient center August, 2015, and announced all facilities would be eventually be on the southside, a lot of concern has been expressed by downtown businesses, residents, and community leaders about the campus.

Wright said UnityPoint is evaluating downtown.

“Growing local services, re-gaining the trust of the community and showing we are financially viable (are priorities now). At some point those discussions (about downtown campus) will need to be looked at. It is an aged facility, everybody in the community knows that. (The original hospital — known as the Evangelical Deaconess Society opened in an existing building at the intersection of East Main Street and South Third Street in 1914).

“UnityPoint will be at the table to make the best possible decision for the community,” Wright said. “It is hard to tell what that looks like. We will need a health care presence on the north side of Marshalltown as well. We are not abandoning health care on this side of the community … we do not know what that looks like yet.”

Emergency Department

Wright said he frequently is asked questions about the department’s status, since numerous changes, such as the resignation of two popular emergency department physicians took place during CIH bankruptcy. At that time, McFarland Clinic was contracted by CIH to provide physician services. Once CIH and McFarland terminated the contract, CIH contacted with a service to provide emergency room physicians.

“We are working diligently to bring on providers familiar with the community,” said Wright. “We are working through those conversations … they were the first phone calls UnityPoint made when we entered the market. We have narrowed in our local provider pool to a tight-knit group of providers so we have familiar faces.”


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com