Mercy Iowa City, Kindred Healthcare to open new rehabilitation facility in Coralville

The Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital in Coralville, planned for a 2020 opening, will help patients get reacquainted with an independent life again.


David Harmantas

Mercy Hospital is seen in Iowa City, IA on September 25, 2017. Mercy is one of the two major hospitals in Iowa City. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Christopher Borro, News Reporter

A new hospital is coming to Coralville thanks to a joint venture between Mercy Iowa City and Kindred Health Care.

Construction on the 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation center will begin early next year, and it is scheduled for completion by April 2020. The facility will focus on treating adult patients who have neurological diseases, strokes, and other brain-related or spine-related injuries.

The facility will be built on a seven-acre site at 2769 Heartland Drive, adjacent to the current Mercy Coral West building.

The notion of building a new facility, at present called the Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital, began around 10 months ago. It was recently granted Certificate of Need approval from the Iowa State Health Facilities Council.

Mercy Iowa City President and CEO Sean Williams said the organization picked Kindred as its partner because it has a similar dedication to quality and a record of providing “objectively excellent” levels of care.

Casey Greene, the chief operating officer of Mercy Iowa City, described the move as an obvious decision.

“That medical office building has a radiology laboratory as well as outpatient rehab services, and it was important to have easy access to Interstate 380 for patients who are traveling,” he said.

The hospital will be the first freestanding rehabilitation center of its kind in the area Mercy Iowa City serves, which includes nine counties in southeastern Iowa.

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“There had been a long-standing identified need in the markets we serve … for these types of patients. When they need this level of care, they have to leave the service area to receive it,” Williams said. He said the experience of families having to leave the area to find suitable service was disruptive.

The capacity of the hospital could be doubled, Greene said, as the need for more beds increases.

Stephen Scheckel, the vice president of population health, quality and outreach, said many patients with the injuries the new hospital will treat require rehabilitation in order to resume their previous level of independent living.

“The most critical time for a patient’s rehabilitation is as soon as they leave the hospital,” Scheckel said. “In fact, sometimes we try to start it while they’re in the hospital.”

Greene said the facility would employ around 120 staff members, largely consisting of new hirings, with 200 construction workers needed to build the hospital. Physicians will work with patients for a minimum of three hours of therapy per day in the facility for a maximum of 28 days.

Patients will be able to maintain independent lives — their rooms would include refrigerators, stoves, and other appliances. Scheckel said they would practice entering and exiting cars, as well.

Other services the Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital is scheduled to provide include wound care, blood-bank services, and a pharmacy.

Kindred Health Care and the statewide Mercy Health Network previously collaborated to open the 50-bed Mercy Rehabilitation Center in Clive, Iowa, earlier this year. Kindred is based in Louisville, Kentucky.