Blog - MedQ

Mercy Cedar Rapids promotes breast cancer awareness with pink lights

The MedQuarter | September 27th, 2022

Beginning Oct. 1, the Mercy Medical Center campus will be lit in pink in observance of breast cancer awareness month. Alliant Energy is also partnering with Mercy on this initiative, using LED technology to light its downtown building in pink, as well, throughout the month of October. The pink lights serve as a visible reminder of each organization’s commitment to breast health and the importance of early detection.

The pink lights on the Mercy campus will be visible at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center, as well as Mercy’s main hospital entrances and other designated areas. Members of the public are invited to drive by to see the light display, which will be best viewed in the evenings.
Alliant Energy will also be joining Mercy in giving away energy-saving pink LED light bulbs at the finish line of this year’s Especially for You® (EFY) Race Against Breast Cancer, which is Sunday, Oct. 9. The bulbs will be available while supplies last at the EFY Health Fair tent in the finish line area at Greene Square Park.

Those who receive the light bulbs are encouraged to put them in their front porch lights for the month of October as a reminder to individuals in their neighborhood to get screened for breast cancer.

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.

American College of Cardiology recognizes UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital in the 2023 U.S. News and World Report “Best Hospitals” Publication

The MedQuarter | September 27th, 2022

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital has earned national recognition from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 “Best Hospitals” guidebook. ACC uses this publication to highlight hospitals and health systems that implement high standards in patient care and protocols to ensure best cardiovascular outcomes are delivered to every patient, every time.

In the publication the ACC recognizes all hospitals and facilities that participate in National Cardiovascular Data Registries (NCDR) or have received an accreditation or certification from ACC Services.
ACC’s NCDR is cardiology’s most established, comprehensive registry offering. Participants are committed to ensuring evidence-based cardiovascular care, improving patient outcomes and lowering health care costs. Facilities achieving an ACC accreditation are committed to establishing a method for sustainable quality improvement.

St. Lukes is recognized for its participation in four ACC registries, honored with two accreditations and received a platinum award. St. Luke’s is the only hospital in Iowa with this level of commitment to these proven quality heart programs.

“We are proud of this recognition,” said Dr. Richard Kettelkamp, St. Luke’s Heart Care interventional cardiologist and medical director of cardiovascular services. “This national recognition demonstrates the level of commitment St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular team has for delivering quality care to heart patients in Eastern Iowa.”

Among St. Luke’s recognitions in the 2023 guidebook are:

C CathPCI Registry® (Diagnostic cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention (non-surgical, catheter-based procedures)) Measures adherence to the ACC/American Heart Association clinical practice guideline recommendations, procedure performance standards and appropriate use criteria for coronary revascularization (restoring blood flow in blocked arteries or veins).

CP Chest Pain — MI Registry™ (Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) treatment) Leverages national evidence-based standards for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of care provided for heart attack patients.

L LAAO Registry™ (Left atrial appendage occlusion procedures) Captures data on left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) procedures to assess outcomes, short and long-term safety, and comparative effectiveness.

T STS/ACC TVT Registry™ (Transcatheter valve therapy procedures) Monitors outcomes on transcatheter valve therapies leading to improved patient outcomes, enhanced assessment of treatment options and results, and more informed decision making.

CP Chest Pain Center Accreditation Integrates triage treatment protocols, risk stratification, and best practices for the emergency care of acute coronary syndrome patients.

TV Transcatheter Valve Certification Utilizes evidence-based science, patient outcomes and expert recommendations to standardize and improve care for patients requiring transcatheter valve therapies.

Chest Pain – MI Registry™ Award Platinum This program recognizes hospitals who have demonstrated sustained, top-level performance in quality of care and adherence to guideline recommendations.

St. Luke’s is Cedar Rapids’ Heart Hospital with over 40 years of leading heart care advancements and pioneering open heart surgery in 1978. St. Luke’s has been consistently recognized by some of the most distinguished organizations in the country for meeting or exceeding national standards of excellence in the areas of quality, innovation, safety and ethics.

U.S. News & World Report publishes its Guidebook annually with a goal to guide consumers in the process of making educated and informed decisions about where to turn for health care. It spotlights hospitals and health care systems that are leading advancements in health care – from implementation of the latest, most innovative trends to use of the newest tools and technologies to optimize patient care and outcomes.

As the global professional organization for the entire cardiovascular care team, the ACC is committed to supporting patients, caregivers and health care professionals by ensuring the highest-quality care is delivered to every patient, every time. For this year’s edition of the guidebook, the rankings and ratings included an indicator on whether featured hospitals have opted into public reporting for TAVR, looking at participation in the STS/ACC TVT Registry Public Reporting Program.

Find out more on the USNWR’s “Best Hospitals” methodology here.

UnityPoint Health Named to ‘Best Employers’ List for Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin

The MedQuarter | August 30th, 2022

UnityPoint Health® continues to be recognized as one of the best places to work across all employers.

West Des Moines, Iowa based UnityPoint Health has been named to the 2022 Forbes “America’s Best Employers By State” list in all three states of its footprint – Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The fourth annual Forbes list, compiled in partnership with market research company Statista, anonymously surveyed 70,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 500 employees to come up with the state-by-state rankings.

Fair pay, safe working conditions, inclusive culture, remote work benefits and diversity initiatives were amongst the criteria used for this year’s Forbes’ rankings. Less than 275 hospitals and health systems nationwide were named to this year’s list.

This is the second workplace recognition UnityPoint Health has received this year. In April, Becker’s Hospital Review included UnityPoint Health on their 2022 list of “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare.” The list highlights hospitals, health systems and healthcare companies that promote diversity within the workforce, employee engagement and professional growth.

“I’m extremely proud of all of our team members,” said UnityPoint Health President and CEO Clay Holderman. “Being named a top employer in all of our states is a testament to our brand promise of showing each other, our patients and our communities just how much they matter to this world.”

UnityPoint Health has worked diligently over the last two years to invest in team members in three key areas: 

  • Team Member Empowerment – In 2021, we raised minimum pay to $15 per hour and provided all team members with COVID appreciation bonuses. We also updated our onboarding and orientation process to enhance team members’ first impression experience to build culture and drive retention. 
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) – In 2022, we hired a chief diversity officer, who leads our system and regional DEI efforts to focus on ensuring all team members feel like they belong at UnityPoint Health. We have established various focus and employee resource groups where team members can share backgrounds, experiences and discuss strategies to make UnityPoint Health a more inclusive work environment. We also provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ team members to do their best work.
  • Leadership Effectiveness – UnityPoint Health offers resources around teambuilding, engagement and retention to help leaders and team members continue to grow in their careers at UnityPoint Health. We also support team members through performance management, merit increases, You Matter Day and offer recognition opportunities like Honoring YOU, where leaders and team members can commend colleagues for accomplishments, big and small.

For individuals interested in joining our team, search the career page on our website:


Mercy Earns 2021 SHPBestTM “Superior Performer” Patient Satisfaction Award for Home Health Care

The MedQuarter | August 22nd, 2022

Mercy Medical Center has been recognized by Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) as a “Superior Performer” for achieving an overall patient satisfaction score that ranked in the top 20% of all eligible SHP clients for the 2021 calendar year.

The annual SHPBest™ award program was created to acknowledge home health agencies that consistently provide high-quality service to their patients. The 2021 award recipients were determined by reviewing and ranking the overall satisfaction score for more than 2,500 home health providers. With the largest HHCAHPS benchmark in the nation, SHP is in a unique position to identify and recognize organizations that have made patient satisfaction a priority and have been rewarded for their efforts with high marks on the HHCAHPS survey.

“SHP is proud to present the SHPBest awards to our top-performing customers,” said Rob Paulsson, president of SHP. “We commend these organizations for their continuous focus on delivering the highest quality of care to their patients.”

“This recognition reflects the ongoing efforts of Mercy Home Care staff to provide the very best care to our home-based patients,” said Dianne Wasson, Mercy director of transitions of care.

“Mercy Home Care is very pleased to be honored by this award,” said Gina James, manager of Mercy Home Care. “We strive to always provide superior care and work to meet each patient’s needs. Mercy Home Care is proud that our patients have recognized us as a leader in Home Care.”

Surgery Center Cedar Rapids Receives Blue Distinction Centers+ Recognition

The MedQuarter | July 22nd, 2022

Surgery Center Cedar Rapids (SCCR) is pleased to announce it has been awarded the Blue Distinction Centers+ recognition by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Blue Distinction Centers+ have a proven history of delivering exceptional care and results, and demonstrate more affordable care in addition to quality care, treatment expertise and better overall patient results.

Surgery Center Cedar Rapids is the only Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) in Eastern Iowa with this distinction, and the only ASC in the state that also has the “+” distinction, indicating efficiency in our patient care as well. Surgery Center Cedar Rapids’ proven history of providing exceptional care and results to patients in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the surrounding area reflects this high honor.

“Surgery Center Cedar Rapids is humbled by receiving this Blue Distinction + from Blue Cross Blue Shield,” said Julie Brinegar, executive director of Surgery Center of Cedar Rapids. “For almost six years, Surgery Center Cedar Rapids has been providing high quality, lower cost, care to our Total Knee and Total Hip replacement patients.  This distinction validates the exceptional care we provide to our patients and is a testimony to the expert surgeons and staff working at Surgery Center Cedar Rapids who care for our patients every day.”

Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated health care facilities that show expertise in delivering high-quality patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations. Only those facilities that first meet nationally established quality and cost measures for Blue Distinction Centers are considered for designation as Blue Distinction Centers+.

Facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement demonstrate expertise in total knee and total hip replacement surgeries, resulting in fewer patient complications and readmissions. Designated facilities include hospitals (with and without an on-site intensive care unit) and ambulatory surgery centers (ASC). All designated facilities must maintain national accreditation, and ASCs are also required to have an advanced orthopedic certification. In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ are, on average, 20 percent more cost-efficient in an episode of care compared to other facilities.

Knee and hip replacement procedures remain some of the most commonly performed, elective surgical procedures in the U.S., according to a 2018 study released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

About SCCR:

As a multi-specialty surgical facility, Surgery Center Cedar Rapids is a leader in the national trend toward surgical procedures being performed outside hospital operating rooms. Some of the advantages to choosing this kind of outpatient care include:

  • Efficiency: Turn-around time between surgeries is as much as three times faster than at hospitals, which means less waiting for patients.
  • Affordability: SCCR’s costs are much lower than at a hospital or hospital-based facility. Patient co-pays and out-of-pocket costs are often 30-40 percent less.
  • Dependability: Scheduled surgery times are not likely to be delayed or bumped by non-related emergencies, as they may be at hospitals.

SCCR is staffed by over 90 highly trained administrative and clinical associates along with a dedicated team of associates that includes physician specialists, registered nurses, certified surgical technicians and certified sterilization personnel.

Mercy’s Health Equity Fund awards support to 8 local non-profits

The MedQuarter | July 21st, 2022

Mercy Medical Center is pleased to announce that it will be awarding funds from its newly created Health Equity Fund to eight local nonprofit agencies. The Health Equity Fund is designed to provide individuals in Linn County and seven surrounding communities with the opportunity to attain full health potential – regardless of social position or other socially defined circumstances – through assistance from local nonprofit organizations.

In total, Mercy received 36 applications for financial support. Of those, the following nonprofits were awarded funds ranging from $10,000 to $45,000 each.

  • His Hands Free Clinic (partnering with Linn County Mental Health Access Center and Sixth Judicial District) = $15,000
  • Kids First Law Center = $12,500
  • Tanager Place = $20,000
  • HACAP Food Reservoir = $10,000
  • Horizons = $10,000
  • Matthew 25 = $25,000
  • Olivet Neighborhood Mission (partnering with Heritage Area Agency on Aging) = $12,500
  • Willis Dady Homeless Services = $45,000

“As a locally owned and operated hospital since 1900, Mercy is committed to the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Melissa Cullum, Mercy’s director of community benefit. “Mercy recognizes the significant downstream influence of community conditions on an individual’s health. To advance health equity, we are pleased to support and partner with these local organizations that are engaging in strategies to address the root causes of poor health.”

Local organizations that applied for financial support could request funding for programs that focus on: access to behavioral health services; food insecurity; and safe and affordable housing, or in support of individuals experiencing homelessness.

Mercy will present checks to each organization that received an award at the following dates and times:

Thursday, July 28:

  • 1:05 p.m.: Tanager Place, 2309 C St. SW, Cedar Rapids
  • 2:00 p.m.: Horizons, 819 5th St. SE, Cedar Rapids
  • 2:45 p.m.: Kids First, 420 6th St. SE, Suite 160, Cedar Rapids
  • 3:30 p.m.: His Hands Free Clinic, 1245 2nd Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

Friday, July 29:

  • 9:05 a.m.: HACAP Food Reservoir, 1550 Hawkeye Dr., Hiawatha
  • 10:00 a.m.: Matthew 25, 201 3rd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
  • 10:45 a.m.: Olivet Neighborhood Mission, 230 10th St. NW, Cedar Rapids
  • 11:30 a.m.: Willis Dady Homeless Services, 1247 4th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

Mercy’s vice president of mission integration will also be offering a blessing at each of the check presentation locations.

Mercy named to 2022 Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals® list

The MedQuarter | July 21st, 2022

Merative Top 100 Hospitals 2022Mercy Medical Center has been named to the 2022 Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals® list. This is the ninth time that Mercy has been recognized with this honor as one of the top-performing hospitals in the U.S. Fortune publishes the annual list.

Merative identified the top hospitals from a rigorous evaluation of 2,650 short-term, acute care, non-federal hospitals in the U.S. The annual list recognizes excellence in clinical outcomes, operational efficiency, patient experience and financial health. It was established to help identify best practices that may help other healthcare organizations achieve consistent, balanced and sustainable high performance.

“I’m pleased that this recognition once again demonstrates Mercy’s ongoing commitment to prioritize patient-centered care,” said Tim Charles, president and CEO, Mercy Medical Center. “Even throughout the challenges we have faced during the pandemic, our caregivers strive every day to achieve a hospital-wide culture of excellence across all services, from patient care and clinical areas to facilities and room service.”

According to Merative, as compared to similar hospitals, the hospitals included on the Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals® list had better results on key clinical and operational performance indicators, such as survival rates; patient complications; healthcare-associated infections; 30-day mortality and 30-day hospital-wide readmission rates; length of stay; throughput in emergency departments; inpatient expenses; profitability; and patient satisfaction ratings.

The Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals lists also incorporates a community health measure into its ranking process. For the community health measure, hospitals were surveyed across three components: 1) assessing hospital contributions to community health as a provider of critical services for community health and preventive care; 2) identifying ways that hospitals contribute to community health as a community partner teaming up with local organizations to implement critical programs; and 3) focusing on ways that hospitals promote community health through their practices as anchor institutions supporting local economic and social progress.

For more information, visit

Cedar Rapids Hospitals Provide Update on COVID-19 Precautions

The MedQuarter | July 18th, 2022

Mercy Cedar Rapids and UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids are asking the community to be vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as we are again seeing increases in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

The new subvariant, BA.5, is the dominant variant within the U.S. and is showing an increased level of transmissibility. In fact, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of the U.S. population lives in counties where COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are high enough that people should wear masks in indoor public settings. The CDC lists Linn County as high risk at this time.

In addition, the new subvariant appears to be partially immune-evasive, meaning that people who have gotten their vaccinations or have previously had COVID-19 may not have as much protection against mild or asymptomatic infection.

As a result, we ask the community to recommit to mitigation precautions that can help lessen the spread of COVID. The CDC recommends:

  • masking in indoor public places and during gatherings
  • maintaining appropriate social distancing
  • practicing good hand hygiene

The reported symptoms of the BA.5 variant are similar to other COVID variants: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle pain and fatigue.

Most patients being admitted to local hospitals are older and have other conditions that put them at higher risk. Please take particular care to protect these groups of people and help educate your loved ones who may fit this profile on what they can do to lessen their risk.

Of course, the COVID vaccination does protect against severe illness. Contact a healthcare provider of pharmacist to determine if you are eligible for a booster dose or check the CDC website at If you are eligible for an additional booster, please consider receiving it so that you are better protected against severe illness. As more individuals complete this step, it will also help decrease the potential effect on hospitals.

Lastly, we thank the community for continuing to do their part to ensure that our neighbors, coworkers, families and hospitals remain healthy throughout this pandemic.

Mercy Cedar Rapids employee receives IHERF scholarship

The MedQuarter | July 18th, 2022

Paige Zaruba of Mercy Medical Center with Tim Charles, Receiving Scholarship
Mercy Medical Center is pleased to share that one of its employees – Paige Zaruba of Mount Vernon – has been awarded a $3,500 scholarship from the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation (IHERF), which is supported by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA). Zaruba is pursuing her BSN at Luther College in Decorah and works as a patient care technician for Mercy’s clinical decision unit when she’s on break from college. She is among 60 students from Iowa who have received assistance this year from the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program.

IHA established the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program in 2004 to help address the shortage of healthcare professionals and encourage young Iowans to establish or continue their careers with Iowa hospitals. The first scholarships were awarded in 2005; more than 685 students have benefited from the program.

In exchange for this financial support, students agree to work one year in an Iowa hospital for each year they receive an award. In this way, the scholarship program helps stabilize and enhance Iowa’s hospital workforce.

IHERF – a charitable nonprofit and exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code – is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iowa Hospital Association.

Sister organizations continue annual tradition of spreading mercy in Cedar Rapids community

The MedQuarter | July 14th, 2022

Sister organizations Mount Mercy University, the Catherine McAuley Center and Mercy Medical Center are continuing the tradition of spreading mercy in our community. Circle the City with Mercy is a one-day community service project with volunteers from each organization working toward a common cause.

Now in its fifth year, partners of Circle the City with Mercy look for a unique community service project each year to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the community. The project marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids in July 1875.

This year, beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 22, team members from each of the three organizations will meet at Mercy’s Hallagan Education Center for a short program. The group will then receive assembly instructions for packaging 16,000 meals for the Take Away Hunger organization. The meals will be distributed locally to help individuals in crisis.

“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with these great organizations in the battle against hunger,” said Joe O’Leary, director of Take Away Hunger Cedar Rapids. “Most people don’t realize the level of food insecurity we experience in our community, state, and country. While many consider this to be the breadbasket of the world, sadly, some children still go to bed hungry. Local projects like Circle the City make a difference.”

Questions about Circle the City with Mercy may be directed to Chad Cooper with Mount Mercy University at (319) 363-1323, ext.1205; Karen Vander Sanden with Mercy Cedar Rapids at (319) 558-8424; or Kelsey Steines with the Catherine McAuley Center at (319) 731-0448. Inquiries about Take Away Hunger Cedar Rapids may be directed to Joe O’Leary at 319-491-6660 or

The MedQuarter is keeping up-to-date on information and resources regarding the pandemic.
See MedQ COVID-19 Business Resources | Support MedQ Businesses