New Maquoketa hospital focused on bettering healthcare

MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KWQC) -- After nearly 70 years, Maquoketa is getting a new hospital. They broke ground Tuesday afternoon on the $36.8 million building located on 17th Street.

The dirt that currently sits on the ground will be transformed into the new Jackson County Regional Health Center. The facility that's been two years in the making is one that current hospital staff is looking forward to.

“Health care evolves every day, so with the new facility and all of the new things that will come. It will help the patients as well as the staff to provide the best care possible,” said Veronica Barten, a Registered Nurse at Jackson County Regional Health Center.

The 13-bed center will replace the existing 25-bed hospital, built in 1950. President of the hospital, Curt Coleman says the reason for downsizing is because healthcare is moving from hospitals to outpatient locations.

“We do offer some inpatient services, but 90 percent of what we do is outpatient. So our emergency department, radiology services, laboratory services,” said Curt Coleman, the President at Jackson County Regional Health Center.

The new facility that aims to put value over cost is what Coleman says will help not just Jackson County but other surrounding areas that depend on rural hospitals.

“We are literally a lifeline for people who are in dire need of health care,” said Coleman.

Health care that they hope will also create jobs in the hospital and community.

“Because the facility was designed by our staff, designed by our physicians. It makes it a great place to work and practice medicine. So we think that will be very attractive to healthcare providers of the future to come and work here in Jackson County,” said Coleman.

Coleman says they did discuss where to build this new hospital and considered other options, but they found that it would not be cost effective to renovate the current building.

The facility is expected to open next December in 2020. Congressman Dave Loebsack is one of the supporters of better healthcare in rural areas. He and Representative Sam Graves have introduced the bipartisan "Save Rural Hospitals Act" to ensure that Iowa’s nearly 300 rural hospitals remain open and strong.