UnityPoint: ‘Keeping healthcare local’

Key part of strategy to make local hospital viable.

T-R FILE PHOTO
From this Aug. 17 photo, Dr. Lance VanGundy of Marshalltown gestures during the UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown Foundation “Lights, Sirens, Keep Them Rolling” fund-raising campaign kick-off event. VanGundy returned to UnityPoint Marshalltown’s Emergency Department duties Oct. 1.

T-R FILE PHOTO From this Aug. 17 photo, Dr. Lance VanGundy of Marshalltown gestures during the UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown Foundation “Lights, Sirens, Keep Them Rolling” fund-raising campaign kick-off event. VanGundy returned to UnityPoint Marshalltown’s Emergency Department duties Oct. 1.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series about the first five-months plus operation of UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown. The not-for-profit organization took over management of Central Iowa Health Care assets May 1 as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. Today’s story highlights investments and changes at the facility. Part one published Sunday.

By MIKE DONAHEY

TIMES-REPUBLICAN

In his first 90 days evaluation of UnityPoint Health Marshalltown prepared in early August, President Dustin Wright wrote: “One of the challenges we have experienced is out-migration of health care services. From day one we knew we had to regain the trust and confidence of our customers, team members, providers and the community. We need to regain that trust and confidence by providing exceptional health care so on one should leave Marshalltown to receive health care.”

Emergency Department hires

In an effort to reduce the amount of business being lost to facilities in other communities, Wright and other key executives identified the hospital’s Emergency Department as one to address.

Central to improvement were, among other priorities, bringing back former ED director Dr. Lance VanGundy,

a Marshalltown native and son of local physician Dr. Milt VanGundy.

Lance VanGundy was employed by Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, but previously worked at the former Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center and later, former Central Iowa Healthcare Emergency Department from 1999 to 2016.

VanGundy’s hiring to head the UnityPoint Marshalltown ED was announced at Aug. 16 UnityPoint Health Marshalltown Foundation fundraising kick-off event. He began duties Oct. 1.

A second major announcement followed.

Wright announced last week former CIH physician Dr. Ross Hoffman would also join the ED.

“We expect Dr. Hoffman to join us Nov.1,” said Wright.

Other hires

Shortly after UnityPoint Health Marshalltown took control of CIH assets, it announced the hiring of Dr. Teresa Brown of Eldora to work at its Marshalltown Clinic.

Wright said in an interview with the Times-Republican last week that UnityPoint Marshalltown continues to invest in recruiting new physicians to stabilize and expand services in primary care, orthopedics, cardiology, and other specialties.

“We have hired 50 employees since May 1,” said Wright before an audience Oct. 5 at the Sixth Annual UnityPoint Marshalltown Foundation Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon.

Investments

UnityPoint Health Waterloo, which purchased CIH assets as part of bankruptcy proceedings (including clinics in Conrad, Marshalltown, State Center and Tama-Toledo) for $11.9 million, also purchased the former CIH Outpatient Center (now Medical Park) from the capital investment entity that owned and leased it to CIH. The 2018 Capital Budget is in development, according to a UnityPoint Marshalltown promotional piece. “Early estimates are that 2018 capital improvements will meet or exceed the 2017 investments it said.”

Wright said UnityPoint Marshalltown will convert to the EPIC electronic medical system, which will update all Human Resources, Payroll and Finance systems.

Outreach

Since beginning duties in Marshalltown June 1, Wright has made numerous presentations about local hospital operations to numbers civic groups in Central Iowa.

Wright, who previously headed UnityPoint Health’s Sumner facility, said he enjoyed the opportunities and appreciated the candor expressed by civic group members.

“The questions were good and I was never taken aback,” Wright said. “It would require something egregious to do that.”

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