Ground broken for hospital expansion
By ANDREW MCGINN
When Rick Morain stepped up to the microphone last Thursday at the groundbreaking of the Greene County Medical Center’s $22.5 million expansion, he did so as co-chairman of the project’s capital campaign.
But more than that — more than being a lifelong Jefferson resident and more than being the former publisher of the local newspaper — he did so as a recent patient, too.
“Six hours ago, in that facility, I had a cataract removed,” he said, his eyes obscured by dark glasses.
“Highly professional,” he added.
Who better, then, to help the medical center drum up an extra $4 million than a man who just trusted his eyeball to the local hospital?
“It’s very necessary for this county,” Morain said of the project, adding that it will enhance the area’s quality of life, a crucial element in attracting medical staff and new residents alike.
The county medical center has changed dramatically since Morain was born there in 1941 — and not always for the best.
The expansion and renovation will finally give order to 77 years worth of additions and remodels, tying the campus together to make it more user friendly.
For starters, the emergency room will move from the rear of the facility to a high-profile spot visible right from Grimmell Road.
Patient privacy also will be emphasized throughout a 51,000-square-foot addition.
“It will significantly change the future of health-care delivery in Greene County,” said Carl Behne, medical center CEO.
The project, funded largely by $20 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, is expected to be complete in mid-2016.
In March, the Fort Dodge office of Woodruff Construction was awarded the $18.26 million construction contract.
USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3 billion on essential public facilities, housing and other projects in Iowa alone since 2009.
“The hospital here opened in the late ’30s,” noted Jim Schleisman, chairman of the medical center’s board of trustees. “This is by far the largest expansion since that time.”
The $4 million capital campaign, Investing in Tomorrow’s Care, has achieved more than 61 percent of its goal, thanks in large part to an anonymous $2 million gift before the campaign even launched.
John Gerken is the campaign’s other co-chairman.
Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony featured several groups of dignitaries, trustees and various committee members each taking turns scooping little mounds of dirt.
“We’ll have moved enough dirt for Woodruff to be able to end a day or two early,” Behne quipped.
Emergency entrance rerouted
With construction getting under way at the Greene County Medical Center, a temporary new route to the ER has gone into effect.
The new route will have vehicles going to the ER off West Lincoln Way and around the west side of the medical center.
Signage is being installed to signify the new route.
The expansion project requires a fence to be placed around a large area of the east portion of the medical center campus and includes blocking the current emergency driveway.