Improving Facades in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District

The MedQuarter | December 20th, 2018

A number of storefronts in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District saw updates in 2018 thanks to the MedQuarter Facade Improvement Program. Since the Program’s inception in 2015, the MedQuarter, in partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, has been making funds available to property owners and businesses located within the District for qualifying exterior improvements up to $10,000. To date the program has supported eight projects with awards totaling over $44,000.

Projects completed in 2018 include:

  • 808 Third Avenue SE building – Building owners Richard & Marlyce Larson performed exterior improvements to the newly exposed west side of their building including a two-tone paint design. Tenants Gilded Pear gallery and Kor are located here.

  • 1233 First Avenue SE building – Building owner John Wasta had a new metal façade installed. This building houses the First Avenue Executive Suites where the Better Business Bureau, SYNERGY HomeCare and Cedar Rapids Police Substation are located.

  • The History Center (800 Second Avenue SE) – Two grants were awarded for the significant historic renovation of the Douglas Mansion, including he brick perimeter wall along Eighth Street and the front porch facing Second Avenue SE.

Helping property owners improve the public-facing portions of their buildings creates a more inviting district for visitors. The Medical SSMID Commission recently approved another round of funding for their Façade Improvement Program for 2019. If you’re a property and/or business owner in the MedQuarter interested in applying for the program, head to or contact MedQuarter Executive Director Phil Wasta at

Mercy acquires Pediatric HAL®: the latest and most advanced pediatric simulator

The MedQuarter | November 26th, 2018

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (November 26, 2018) – Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids has acquired PediatricHAL®, the latest and most advanced pediatric patient simulator.  Mercy is among the first hospitals in the Midwest to put HAL to work to help train its nurses, doctors and healthcare students, and improve their pediatric care.

Pediatric HAL,developed by Gaumard Scientific Company, is designed to help healthcare students and professionals at all levels develop the specialized skills needed to effectively communicate with, diagnose and treat young patients throughout the continuum of care.

While a young child may have trouble explaining medical symptoms, a quick look at the simulator’s facial expressions – as well as his verbal and non-verbal cues – can reveal much about anxiety and pain.

Pediatric HAL isthe first patient simulator capable of simulating lifelike facial expressions, emotions and moods, including anxiety, anger, amazement, pain and more.  

“With Pediatric HAL, our healthcare students and providers can practice handling difficult situations, such as how to diagnose and communicate a serious medical issue to a young child,” said Tracy Wilson, Mercy’s Nurse Residency Program Manager.  “We feel fortunate to have this highly advanced patient simulator as another training tool.  It will help learners develop a wide range of skills through an interactive patient-provider experience.”

With the recent addition of HAL, Mercy now has five high-fidelity simulators for advanced training purposes.  In addition to on-site training at Mercy, Wilson has taken the simulators to nursing fairs at area colleges.

She says learners can perform a full range of emergency procedures on HAL, including surgical airway, needle decompression, and chest tube thoracostomy with a high degree of realism.

Pediatric HAL includes 10 scenarios designed to replicate a variety of clinical situations throughout the spectrum of pediatric care.

To learn more about Pediatric HAL and watch a video, visit

Wayfinding Signage Comes to the MedQuarter this Fall

The MedQuarter | October 24th, 2018

The MedQuarter Regional Medical District will soon be easier to navigate with the installation of a wayfinding system. The initiative, which began three years ago, creates a comprehensive vehicular and pedestrian wayfinding system for Cedar Rapids’ core districts of Downtown, including Kingston Village, the MedQuarter and Czech Village/New Bohemia.

This Fall, the MedQuarter’s 18 vehicular signs will be installed throughout the district starting at the 7th Street exit off south bound I-380, along 7th Street SE, along 8th Avenue SE, along 10th Street SE and along 1st Avenue SE & NE. The signs will direct visitors to major arteries, anchor institutions, districts and public destinations both within and outside of the MedQuarter. Spots include Mt. Vernon Road, Coe College, Mercy Medical Center, Physicians’ Clinic, St. Luke’s Hospital, Czech Village, Downtown, New Bohemia, the U.S. Cellular Convention Center, Greene Square, Museum of Art, Paramount Theatre and the Public Library.

“I’m excited to get this project off the drawing board and into our core districts,” said Matt Myers, Traffic Engineering Manager and City Traffic Engineer for the City of Cedar Rapids. “The City recognizes the value of enhanced signage and I have enjoyed working with the core districts in creating a system that meets their diverse needs.”

The remaining portions of the signage for the MedQuarter, Downtown, Kingston Village and Czech Village/New Bohemia will be manufactured and installed as funding becomes available. The City is in the process of budgeting for the entire system and is working on a state grant application that may assist with the cost. Installation of the full system will fulfill the vision of implementing a wayfinding system that assists drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to navigate within and between the city’s core districts. In the meantime, this is an important first step.

The creation of the comprehensive wayfinding system has been a collaborative effort between the Downtown District, MedQuarter Regional Medical District, Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District, GO Cedar Rapids and the City of Cedar Rapids and included many hours of planning, location assessment, wayfinding analysis, public input and design revisions to create the final system.

Family Caregivers Center of Mercy Honored by American Hospital Association

The MedQuarter | October 15th, 2018

Tim Charles, president and CEO, Mercy Medical Center, and Kathy Good, director of the Family Caregivers Centers of Mercy, at the American Hospital Association’s HAVE Awards Breakfast in Chicago)

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (October 15, 2018) – The Family Caregivers Center of Mercy is one of four programs in the nation recognized by the American Hospital Association (AHA) as a winner of its Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE).  

The AHA HAVE Awards Program is in its 35th year and highlights the extraordinary efforts of volunteers and volunteer programs, as well as the value and positive influence their contributions have on the patients, hospitals, health systems, staff and communities they serve.

The Family Caregivers Center of Mercy was the winner in the community service category.  Other program categories include community outreach and/or collaboration, fundraising, and in-service hospital volunteer programs.

“We are pleased to be recognized by the AHA for our community service program initiatives,” said Kathy Good, director of the Family Caregivers Center of Mercy. “We have a dedicated volunteer force of more than 110 committed individuals who’ve allowed us to serve 860 caregivers since our start in 2015. The need for the service we provide is great, and growing, and we look forward to continuing to serve our community in the coming years.”           

Award recipients were honored at the annual HAVE Awards breakfast on Sept. 30 in Chicago.

A celebration will be held in Cedar Rapids in late October to recognize the volunteers, donors, caregivers and care receivers.

 The 2018 HAVE recipients and finalists are:

Community Service


· Family Caregivers Center of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


· Integris Grove Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary-Souper Bowl Saturday, Integris Grove Hospital, Integris Health, Oklahoma City

· Moore County: They Immunize Kids Early (MCTIKE), First Health of the Carolina, Inc., Pinehurst, N.C.

· Morris Hospital Patient Transportation Program, Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers, Morris, Ill.

· Munroe Auxiliary Healthy Home, Munroe Regional Medical Center, Ocala, Fla.

Community Outreach/Collaboration


· HSHS St. Joseph Community Garden, HSHS St. Joseph Hospital, Chippewa, Wis.



· Tackle Kids Cancer, Hackensack Meridian Health, Hackensack, N.J.



· Trauma Survivors Network, The MetroHealth System, Brooklyn Heights, Ohio

About the Family Caregivers Center of Mercy

The Family Caregivers Center of Mercy is eastern Iowa’s only comprehensive resource for family caregivers. Services are available for caregivers in need, regardless of their hospital or physician affiliation.  The Center provides access to vital services and helps connect caregivers of individuals living with chronic conditions to local resources. Visit

About the American Hospital Association

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

Ted Townsend, Charter Board Member of the MedQuarter Regional Medical District in Cedar Rapids, Announces Retirement

The MedQuarter | October 9th, 2018

Theodore Townsent, Jr.

Cedar Rapids, IOWA —Theodore Townsend, Jr., president and CEO of UnityPoint Health™ – Cedar Rapids and interim president and CEO of UnityPoint Health – Dubuque, has announced his plans to retire December 31, 2018. His retirement will conclude 39 years in the health care industry and 16 with UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids, one of UnityPoint Health’s founding affiliates.

Michelle Niermann

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Board of Directors has named Michelle Niermann as Townsend’s successor. Niermann currently serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and has held numerous senior positions within the region since she started as an administrative fellow in 1994.

Townsend became UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapid’s president and CEO in 2002. Before arriving at UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids, Townsend spent 17 years at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and held numerous leadership positions such as senior vice president of operations and chief operating officer. He joined Geisinger in 1985 as vice president of public affairs.

“Ted Townsend is someone who fosters lasting change, mobilizes people and resources for the greater good of the community,” said Bill Prowell, board chair, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids. “His impact and mentoring has been substantial. He has made meaningful and lasting changes that will truly make a difference in Cedar Rapids for generations.”

During his tenure in Cedar Rapids, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids grew to its present size, which includes 194 healthcare providers, 33 clinics and more than 4,000 team members. UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids consists of St. Luke’s Hospital, 33 UnityPoint Clinics, Jones Regional Medical Center, AbbeHealth, MedLab and Living Centers East and West.

Under Townsend’s leadership, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids earned IBM Watson’s Top 100 Hospital ranking seven times (2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2018), was designated one of the 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals six times by Truven Health Analytics, ranked as the third best hospital in Iowa according to U.S. News and World Report, named one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America by Becker’s Hospital Review five times and has achieved Magnet recognition for Excellent in Nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center twice.

“Under Ted’s steady and visionary leadership, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids has increasingly thrived,” said Kevin Vermeer, UnityPoint Health, president and CEO. “Ted has helped lead the region in moving from volume to value-based care in terms of service delivery transformation and has helped enhance healthcare access in the Cedar Rapids market.”

Today, Townsend is a charter board member for Cedar Rapids MedQuarter and Iowa HealthCare Quality Collaborative, board member with the Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance, board of trustee with Waypoint and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

A native of Michigan, Townsend is a graduate of the Western Michigan University and earned his degree in healthcare administration from Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2006, Townsend received the Department of English, Distinguished Alumni Award from Western Michigan University.

Niermann will assume the position of UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids president and CEO starting January 1, 2019.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Corizzo, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, (319) 369-8372 or (319) 560-2385.

St. Luke’s Hospital a First for International Study for New Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure

The MedQuarter | October 8th, 2018

Cedar Rapids, IOWA— Doctors at the UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute recently implanted a medical device aimed at helping patients with chronic heart failure at St. Luke’s Hospital. This implantation of the VITARIA™ System by LivaNova PLC is part of the company’s Autonomic Regulation Therapy (ART) to Enhance Myocardial Function and Reduce Progression of Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction Pivot Study. This implantation is part of an international, multi-center, randomized trial to evaluate the VITARIA System for the treatment of advanced heart failure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control nearly 6 million adults in the United States have heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood and the heart attempts to compensate for lost pumping power. As a result, the heart may change shape and pump inefficiently. Heart failure is usually a progressive condition that worsens over time. It may be treated by medications, lifestyle modifications and in some cases surgery or medical devices.

ART is investigational and being studied in an international clinical trial called ANTHEM-HFrEF. The trial is currently enrolling patients who are eligible to determine the long-term benefits of ART for heart failure patients. ART applies mild electrical impulses to the vagus nerve with the goal of it helping re-balance the autonomic nervous system and helping the heart beat more efficiently.

The first implant in the ANTHEM-HFrEF study, was performed at St. Luke’s Hospital by Dr. Jared Kray, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa surgeon on Sept. 6. The patient was David Gee of Cedar Rapids. The 67-year-old Gee was diagnosed with chronic heart failure earlier this year.

“In January I was really fighting something,” recalled Gee. “My recovery was not going well, and I was really tired. I was initially tested for lung issues and they noted something on my EKG. Ultimately, I ended up in the hospital for several days and since then I have been dealing with my diagnosis of chronic heart failure.”

While Vagas nerve stimulation is new for heart failure, the approach has been used with success, for over 20 years in the treatment of epilepsy with over 150,000 implants worldwide. ART has also been tested in the treatment of heart failure in two small human studies that led to the FDA Approval of the ANTHEM- HFrEF trial.

Gee was happy to participate in the clinical study through St. Luke’s. He is very active – exercising several times a day. He’s hopeful the new implant will help his heart function better and allow him to continue to stay active.

“It’s early in the study yet,” said Gee. “I might have noticed a little faster recovery time after I exercise, and I hope that continues to improve over time. Each week I return to UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Cardiology for adjustments, where they increase the electrical impulses to my heart. I expect to do that for the next several weeks.”

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute was chosen as one of 100 sites to participate in the study. There are currently five individuals enrolled through the Heart and Vascular Institute. The hope is to enroll about 20 individuals locally. St. Luke’s was asked to participate in the study because of previous successes and its heart failure clinic is efficient and well organized according to UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute physicians.

“Patients with advanced heart failure continue to need additional and complementary therapy options, since drug treatment alone has slowed but not stopped heart failure progression,” said Dr. Ron M. Oren, Heart Failure Cardiologist and Lead Investigator for the Study at the UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute. “We are pleased to participate in this important study to critically evaluate the safety and efficacy of Autonomic Regulation Therapy delivered by the VITARIA System.”

“The implant procedure is a delicate procedure, which involves surgical implantation of the electrodes around the Vagus nerve in the neck and placement of a generator on the chest wall (much like a pacemaker),” said Dr. Jared Kray, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa surgeon.  “It has been very well tolerated in our patients so far and the procedure also takes less than one hour to perform.  I am excited to be part of this cooperative effort to hopefully improve the quality of life in patients with heart failure.”

In addition to Drs. Oren and Kray, nurses Amy Schweer and Amy Becker help coordinate the ANTHEM-HFrEF study for UnityPoint Health.

“There haven’t been many new developments in heart failure treatment in recent years,” said Amy Schweer, UnityPoint Health – Cardiology research coordinator. “The addition of this device to our current treatments could be a game-changer in helping patients feel better and be hospitalized less. It’s exciting to be involved in such an important international study.”

For more information about the VITARIA System and the treatment of heart failure with ART, visit or call UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute at (800) 982-1959 or

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Corizzo, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, (319) 369-8372 or (319) 560-2385.

Especially for You Race Celebrates 28 Years with 15,200 Participants

The MedQuarter | October 8th, 2018

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (Oct. 7, 2018) – Nearly 15,200 people registered for the 28th annual Especially For You® Race Against Breast Cancer, which took place today at Mercy Medical Center.    

Proceeds from race registrations benefit the Especially for You fund. This year more than $452,000 in registrations was raised for the fund, which provides financial assistance for breast and gynecological cancer screenings and services for area individuals in need. Over the last ten years, the Especially for You fund has helped more than 6,400+ individuals with 14,000 services right here in Linn County.

General Mills and Mercy Medical Center are co-founders of the race, which includes a 5K run, 5K walk and a one-mile family fun walk. The course route finishes in the NewBo district where participants enjoyed music, free kids’ activities, team photo opportunities, mascots, massages, a health fair and a pancake breakfast.   

The Especially for You Race has experienced tremendous growth since the first race in 1991, when 1,078 people participated. The race and Especially for You fund are dedicated to the memory of Sandy Knight, a Whittier resident and General Mills employee who died of breast cancer in July 1991. It was her wish to establish a race to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and education.

2018 Race Details

Total registrants: 15,198 (in 2017 there were 14,700)

Money raised for Especially for You:   More than $452,000 in race registrations

Total number of registered teams: 460

Top Business Teams with Most Members:

  1. Mercy Medical Center – 1,227
  2. Fairfax State Savings Bank – 644
  3. General Mills – 154
  4. OBGYN Associates – 154

Top Family Teams with Most Members:

1.        Team Deb: Live Life Until The End – 177

2.        Pamela Jo – 112

3.        Angi Woods – 85

Fun Facts

  • Race participants represented 455 cities, 31 states, and were from as far away as the Netherlands.
  • The oldest registrant was 100 years old.  
  • Total number of cancer survivors registered for the race – 756
  • This year’s t-shirt color was coral.  The color is changed every year.

Race results will be posted at

Especially For You Race Against Breast Cancer Marks its 28th Year

The MedQuarter | September 27th, 2018

Registration is open through race morning, Sunday, Oct. 7

CEDAR RAPDIS, IA (Sept. 27, 2018) – The 28th annual Especially for You® (EFY) Race Against Breast Cancer is almost here!  To date, more than 14,000 people have registered to participate in the Oct. 7 race.

The race supports the Especially for You fund, providing mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies and other breast-care and gynecological cancer services to individuals in need.  During the past 10 years, 6,400+ individuals have accessed nearly 14,000 services through the EFY Fund.

Individuals can register for the race online at until race day.  On-site registration will be available during packet pick-up times from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center parking lot; from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, in Mercy Lot #19; and from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Mercy Lot #19.  On race morning, registration can be completed at Mercy’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center from 7 to 7:30 a.m.  For additional information, call the EFY race line at (319) 398-6582.

Ready, Set…

On race day, opening ceremonies begin at 7:45 a.m.; the race starts at 8 a.m.  The starting line is on Tenth St. SE in front of Hall-Perrine Cancer Center. Race participants are encouraged to stay for the post-race party near the finish line at NewBo, which includes family and children’s activities, live music, a health fair and a pancake breakfast near the finish line.

Survivor Photo

On race morning, breast cancer survivors are invited to gather at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center parking lot, to the right of the building’s main entrance, at 7:15 a.m. to participate in a group photo, which will be taken at 7:30 a.m.


Thanks to the generosity of Park Cedar Rapids and NTS, several parking options and free shuttle service are available to race participants. 

For more information, visit

The EFY race and fund are dedicated to the memory of Sandy Knight, a Whittier resident and General Mills employee who died of breast cancer in July 1991.  Knight co-founded Mercy’s Especially for You After Breast Cancer Support Group.  Her dream was to establish a race to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and education.

Breast cancer is most treatable and curable when detected in its earliest stages. Even so, breast cancer claims more than 40,000 lives each year. This number can be reduced with early detection through clinical breast exam and mammography.

MedQ Park on 3rd and MedQ Mile Now Open to the Public

The MedQuarter | September 26th, 2018

The MedQuarter Regional Medical District held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 for two initiatives that work toward the District’s Master Development Plan: the MedQuarter’s new pocket park, “MedQ Park on 3rd” and the MedQ Mile walking route. Cedar Rapids Mayor Hart, members of the Cedar Rapids Medical SSMID Commission, and other local officials spoke at the ribbon cutting event to recognize these new enhancements to the District. Following the ribbon cutting, lunch was provided by Moy’s Tacos food truck.

The MedQ Park on 3rd is located on the Northeast corner of Third Avenue and Eighth Street SE and opens a new green space in the District. The park provides a pedestrian and bike-friendly green space well-suited for yoga classes, musical events, food trucks, and additional programming.

The MedQ Mile is a one-mile walking loop in the District suited for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs. It promotes healthy activities for employees and visitors in the District.

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Launches Online ER Check-in

The MedQuarter | September 25th, 2018

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s launches online ER Check-in     UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital has launched online ER Check-in, allowing patients who have minor injuries and illnesses to check-in online and wait at home, not in the ER.   To use the new service, visit and choose a time to visit the ER. Once a patient schedules a time, they will receive a text confirmation of their preferred treatment time, start the online check-in process and wait in the comfort of their home. Patients then head over to the ER at their allotted time to be seen by a provider. If an individual’s condition is life-threatening, they need to call 911 or go immediately to UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s ER.   “Our new ER Check-in service is meant for people with non-life-threatening or chronic conditions,” Sandi McIntosh, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Department administrative director, stated in a press release. “We know there are times when doctor’s offices and urgent cares are closed but someone has a medical issue, which needs to be addressed but is not considered life-threatening. This service is for them. However, if you are in doubt about the severity of your condition, you should always seek immediate care.”   St. Luke’s ER Check-in is designed to filter certain symptom keywords that may indicate a life-threatening or debilitating medical condition. Each ER Check-in form is also reviewed by a St. Luke’s team member. Again, those indicating life-threatening medical conditions need to call 911 or go immediately to the ER. ER Check-in is not a guaranteed appointment time – the team will do its best to see individuals as close to their check-in time as possible, but if there are patients with more urgent needs, they must be treated first.