Board of Regents approve construction of new UIHC hospital in North Liberty

The state Board of Regents approved a $395 million plan for a new University of Iowa hospital in North Liberty. The building will have both a hospital and academic section to accommodate the increasing number of people in need of heath care from university facilities.


A schematic of the planned UIHC facility in North Liberty is seen. The state Board of Regents approved the project on Tuesday.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

North Liberty will soon be home to a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics facility.

The state Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve the plans for construction of a new UIHC hospital in North Liberty at a meeting Tuesday morning. Construction will begin later this year.

The building will be built on 60 acres of land along Forevergreen Road in North Liberty and will encompass 469,000 square feet of space.

“The building has two parts. The right hand side of it is a hospital, and the left hand side of it is an academic and clinic building,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, chief executive officer of UIHC. “They will be structurally integrated with one another.”

The proposed budget for the project is $395 million, with funding provided by hospital revenue bonds, gifts, and university hospitals building usage funds. The facility will be designed and constructed by Neumann Monson Architects, a firm based in Iowa City and Des Moines, and is slated for completion by June 2025.

“We feel very confident that we are defined in the scope of this project as we’re bringing it to you today,” said Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president for finance and operations and architect.

The building will have a hospital with inpatient beds and operation rooms, while the academic section of the building will have outpatient clinics and education, research, and collaboration spaces. It will also have faculty offices, according to the hospital’s plans.

“There will also be a new central utility plant entirely dedicated to this facility that will also be constructed, and will be useful for any future buildings that would be added to this campus,” Gunasekaran said.

The vote on the construction plans for the hospital came after a Certificate of Need was granted by the state Health Facilities Council on Aug. 31. A Certificate of Need is used for expanding the number of healthcare facilities and services in an area.

The meeting on Aug. 31 was the second time the hospital has come before the state Health Facilities Council. The project was initially denied by the council, but it was approved in the second hearing. At both meetings, representatives from area hospitals spoke out against the proposed hospital, saying it would hurt community hospitals in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

“Not only do they advertise for their services, but they talk down about the ones that community hospitals and small hospitals like myself provide,” Eric Briesemiester, CEO of Jones Regional Medical Center said during the Aug. 31 meeting. “UIHC is a fantastic resource for that tertiary specialized care, but they really do threaten the viability of rural healthcare entities like ours.”

The hospital needed to receive the Certificate of Need in order to go ahead with construction, and it received it based on capacity and the idea of using the hospital as a way to train students.

A primary motivation for the new hospital is to open up more space for patients, Gunasekaran said. There has been an increase in the number of people requesting health care treatment from UIHC, he said, and not enough extra space to accommodate them all.

“We’re doing this for the people of the state of Iowa — I think that should be remembered,” Regent President Mike Richards said. “We take care of people from every walk of life in the state and this will be their hospital.”