Trinity Muscatine breaks ground on major facilities expansion

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Just a few years after nearly closing its doors, Trinity Muscatine is expanding.   On Monday, May 14, representatives from the hospital, its parent company Trinity Regional Health System, board members, and the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry hoisted ceremonial shovels to break ground on the $18.5 million facilities expansion. The project encompasses the emergency, operating, laboratory and radiology departments and also includes new technology.

An increased demand for health care services has made the newest expansion project necessary to meet the health care needs of the community.  When the emergency room was built in 1979 the number of patients treated was 3,500 a year.  Fast forward to 2011 and just under 15,000 patients were treated in the same space. By 2017, the volume of patients anticipated to be treated in the emergency room is estimated to increase to 20,000.

“The expansion of the emergency department will reduce overcrowding by increasing treatment areas and enhance patient privacy” says Dr. Eric Schmieg, emergency department director. “The ED is one of the busiest places in the hospital; the project will help with patient flow and improve the efficiency of the admissions process.”

“Patients seen in the emergency department have complex illness and injuries,” says Hayes.  “The new expansion and upgrade of technology will better support the high volume of emergency and trauma care that we currently provide.”

The emergency room will remain open during construction and continue to provide trauma, medical, surgical treatments and assessments.

The expansion also includes the upgrade of the operating rooms. The addition of Dr. Tariq Niazi, an orthopedic surgeon, in the fall of 2010 has contributed to the increase of surgeries, but has also created the need for advanced technology.  The complexity of surgery requires technology that cannot be accommodated in the existing operating rooms.  The renovation will allow for four state-of-the-art operating rooms equipped with improved lighting, computers, ultrasound equipment and the latest medical technology.

The radiology department has experienced steady growth in the last 10 years, with 34,000 exams performed in 2011.  To accommodate the growth, the latest expansion will include a MRI, which will be brought in-house and replace the mobile unit currently contracted to meet demand.  Bone density technology will be added as well to expand services.

The growth continues in the laboratory department as well.  Last year, the laboratory department surpassed 286,000 tests, with an increase of 15,000 expected for 2012.  The renovation in the lab area will have an overall emphasis on patient privacy and include two new service areas.

“The expansion of Trinity Muscatine is a vital investment in the future of the Muscatine community.  I am proud to support the hospital with the project. This expansion means that Muscatine area residents will have increased access to health care services; and as Muscatine’s industry grows, it is important that Trinity can meet the growing demands for quality, hometown care” says John Beckey, president of the Trinity Muscatine board of directors.

“Thank you to Trinity Muscatine for continuing to grow with the needs of the community and working hard to fulfill their mission of ‘best outcome for every patient, every time’. The Trinity staff members have been great partners in the Muscatine community, and I am proud to work with them as they move forward in their expansion endeavor.”

The project was designed by Heery International and will be overseen by general contractors Frye Builders and JE Dunn.    Plans call for the project to be completed by 2013.

As recently as 2008 Trinity Muscatine – formerly Unity Health Care – was in danger of defaulting on its bonds as it was faced with a mounting deficit that topped out at 7 million dollars in June of that year.  Low employee satisfaction and customer service survey scores, along with the financial situation, prompted a desire for change from the Board of Directors.  

In May 2008, Unity signed a management services agreement with Trinity Regional Health System, and in July 2009 the hospital became the fourth affiliate of the regional health system that operates three additional hospitals, physician clinics and other ancillary services in Rock Island and Moline, Ill., as well as Bettendorf, Iowa.  Trinity Regional Health System is a senior affiliate of Iowa Health System, the fifth largest non-denominational health care system in the United States.

Since then, Trinity Muscatine has benefitted from being part of a larger health system.  The affiliation with TRHS has enabled Trinity Muscatine to take advantage of more efficient system-wide resources, purchasing power and the ability to borrow money at lower interest rates.  These benefits in conjunction with access to an expanded network of physicians and services have contributed to Trinity Muscatine’s growth.

“The support of Iowa Health System and TRHS demonstrates their commitment to localized health care and investment in the Muscatine community,” says Hayes. “We can continue to invest in the future expansion of facilities, services and providers because of their confidence and assistance.”

Health system officials see a bright future in Muscatine.

“Smaller hospitals across the country are facing increasing pressures to find ways to keep health care local, and Trinity Muscatine was no different,” said Rick Seidler, President and CEO of Trinity Regional Health System, which also operates three other full-service hospitals in Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, and Bettendorf, Iowa, in addition to the Muscatine campus. “The health system is proud to help Muscatine residents have what they want – a hospital close to home.”

With its four full-service hospitals Trinity Regional Health System has a total of 595 licensed inpatient beds, as well as 27 primary care and specialty clinics with 100 employed physicians. Trinity Visiting Nurse and Homecare Association, Trinity Home Care Products, the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, Trinity Muscatine Public Health, Trinity Muscatine New Horizons, Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Trinity Osteopathic Family Practice Medical Residency Program are all part of Trinity Regional Health System or its parent organization, Iowa Health System.

Sidebar: Trinity Muscatine by the Numbers

$18.5 million planned expansion and renovation

30,500 square feet of new construction and 26,300 square feet of renovation work

Increase to 13 emergency department  beds from 9 all-private rooms

Over 200,000 patient visits annually