A Journey from Despair to Renewed Hope

The MedQuarter | January 30th, 2020

Janet LeonardJanet Leonard has lived with Type 2 diabetes for nearly 15 years, but in the spring of 2018, she thought her time was coming to an end. Janet was morbidly obese and battled with shortness of breath just walking from room to room.

She gave up on life. Janet stopped driving to Dubuque to see a diabetes specialist because she didn’t think going would do any good. She felt powerless and hopeless.

“I was waiting to die. I was a heart attack waiting to happen,” Janet said.

She planned and prepaid for her funeral, started decluttering her house and told her children to be prepared. She wasn’t sure she was going to see another birthday.

Taking Her Life Back

One afternoon, Janet met some friends at a restaurant. When she arrived, Janet was so out of breath from crossing the street that she literally could not speak.

This was not the Janet her friends knew. Out of love and care for her, Janet’s friends pushed her to visit her doctor and seek answers.

She did and was referred to a cardiologist. The cardiologist told Janet she was a perfect candidate for the Health Transitions Clinic, located at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa in the MedQuarter. The very next day Janet saw Charles Pruchno, MD, a kidney specialist and leading physician at the clinic.

Dr. Pruchno explained to Janet that her physical condition was not allowing her body to process the 500 units of insulin she was taking every day. He then introduced her to the Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program.

This program is designed for people with Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and those at risk for developing diabetes. It is an individualized 10-month program that works in four phases to ensure safe weight loss and to maintain a healthier weight. The program includes weekly monitoring, a monthly meeting with the physician, custom meal plans developed by a dietitian and a gradual introduction of exercise.

Living to Enjoy the Benefits

In addition to losing 90 pounds, Janet was able to lower her insulin dosage to the level she started with 15 years ago. She hopes to be insulin-free in the future.
Janet had been spending $5,000 a year on insulin. With the money she’s now saving, she will take a trip to Ireland, the home of her ancestors. And the best part? She will be able to walk without shortness of breath on the trip.

Because she is now more active, Janet is more comfortable getting out of the house and attending events. She is more confident in herself.

“It made a huge difference in how I approach life because now I can actually be a part of it. It used to be easier just to stay home, but I can go out with friends now. My life is going to be a lot longer,” Janet said.

She is grateful to have found the help that she needed at PCI, in the heart of the MedQ, describing her experience there as pleasant, convenient, with top-grade specialists who truly make a difference in the lives of many people.

“They saved my life and can save yours too,” Janet said.

Student Gets an Insider’s View with MedQ Internships

The MedQuarter | January 14th, 2020

Katie JensenKatie Jensen, a senior at Kennedy High School, has always had a particular interest in working in health care. The big issue? She had no idea which branch of medicine or what medical profession to choose. Luckily, internships in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District provided the insight and guidance she was seeking.

Continuous Learning at the MedQ

During a visit to one of the hospitals in the MedQ in 2018, she learned of an internship opportunity in the oncology clinic.

Katie applied through Workplace Learning Connection at Kirkwood Community College. Her high school counselors promote the program, which connects students with internships and job shadow opportunities.

“I would recommend doing an internship when you aren’t sure about the division of the medical field. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what your day could be like in the job of so many different professions,” Katie said.

Her oncology internship had a 45-hour requirement. She rotated throughout the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center, working with chemotherapy nurses and in the oncology clinic, radiation and even the operating room.

Katie enjoyed her first internship so much that in 2019 she did another 45-hour rotation in pediatrics at Mercy Medical Center. She spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit, labor and delivery, pediatric clinic and in-patient clinic. She even attended a live birth on her first day!

Guidance for Future Success

Katie loved her internship experiences here. She learned so much.

“They were willing to answer all of my questions, and they didn’t talk to me like I was a little kid. They understood and were able to give me really good advice too,” Katie said. “I was never pushed off to the side. Everyone was super engaged in helping me learn, and they were also very warm and welcoming.”

Because she rotated between four or five departments, the staff collaborated on scheduling to make sure Katie had a top-notch experience.

The nurse practitioners and other medical professionals Katie worked with encouraged her to pursue her passion for health care and offered guidance and advice on her education and career.

Her MedQ internships helped Katie make some important life decisions. She will pursue a nursing degree at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she will also play volleyball.

She may be back though. Katie hopes to work or volunteer at the MedQ in the future.

Mercy offers Prom 2020: Your Skin Is In!

The MedQuarter | January 10th, 2020

Experts will offer tips on looking great for prom – without tanning

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (Jan. 9, 2020) – Mercy Medical Center’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center is hosting a free, pre-prom skin cancer awareness event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19.  The event is aimed at educating young people about sun protection and the dangers of excessive sun exposure and tanning booths, especially as prom season nears.

This pre-prom event will include hair, makeup and sunless tanning tips from industry experts, as well as a fashion show highlighting the latest dress styles.  Participants may also browse and shop at a vendor fair, enjoy refreshments, and register to win an Apple Watch, Beats wireless headphones or gift cards.

Two skin cancer survivors will share their stories about the dangers of sun exposure and tanning. Hall-Perrine Cancer Center’s Vincent Reid, MD, will provide skin cancer education

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Melanoma, a more dangerous type of skin cancer, accounts for more than 7,200 skin cancer deaths each year, and more than 96,000 new cases.  Indoor tanning, just like outdoor sun tanning, exposes skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays, the cause of most skin cancers.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who begin tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of melanoma.

To register for this pre-prom event at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center, please call (319) 861-7998 or register online at

Newly Renovated St. Luke’s Cafeteria Complete, Open to Public

The MedQuarter | December 17th, 2019

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids opened its newly renovated kitchen and cafeteria named Ten Twenty-Six Grille this morning at a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting.

The extensive renovation that started last December updates the 1950s-era kitchen, and equips it with state-of-the-art facilities, including an updated tray line, dish room and food service area. The kitchen renovation also allowed the hospital to begin offering room service.

St. Luke’s also recently hired new Executive Chef Matt Melone, former co-owner and chef at the Pig and Porter restaurant in NewBo. He trained at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and has experience working at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

St. Luke’s cafeteria and kitchen remained open during the renovations but offered a limited menu. Ten Twenty-Six Grille is open to the public and is located on the main level of the hospital, just off the B elevators.

Story originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

Mercy Donates AEDs to Area Schools, Churches, Non-Profit Organizations

The MedQuarter | December 2nd, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS (Dec. 2, 2019) – Mercy Medical Center is donating Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to 10 area schools, churches and community organizations in the coming days, bringing the number of AEDs the hospital has donated to 73 since the program began in 2014.

AEDs are portable devices that check heart rhythm and treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).  When needed, an AED can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. The AEDs will be placed in readily accessible locations at each site to be used in case of an emergency.

The AED donation program at Mercy is designed to equip local non-profits demonstrating financial need with the life-saving devices.  The non-profits must also exhibit a need for AED coverage for their facility and participate in an application process.

Presentation of the AEDs will take place at the following times and locations in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities:

Tuesday, Dec. 3: 

  1. 8:30 a.m. – La Salle Center, 3700 1st Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids
  2. 10 a.m. – St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 4700 Johnson Ave., NW, Cedar Rapids
  3. 11:40 a.m. – Hawkeye Area Council, 4521 Boy Scout Rd., Central City
  4. 1:30 p.m. – St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 120 5th St. NW, Cedar Rapids
  5. 2:30 p.m. – His Hands Free Clinic, 400 12th St. SE, Cedar Rapids
  6. 3:30 p.m. – United Parish Church, 208 3rd St. N., Coggon

Friday, Dec. 6: 

  1. 3:30 p.m. – St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1420 Walker St., Ely

Monday, Dec. 9:

  1. 1 p.m. – Alburnett High School, 131 Roosevelt St., Alburnett

Tuesday, Dec. 10:

  1. 9 a.m. – St. Isidore Church, 603 6th Ave., S., Springville
  2. 10:15 a.m. – Isaac Newton Christian Academy, 1635 Linmar Dr. NE, Cedar Rapids

Mercy is partnering with ThinkSafe, based in Cedar Rapids, to make the AEDs available for donation.

According to the American Heart Association, SCA is a major cause of death in the United States, contributing to more than 300,000 deaths annually and accounting for about 50 percent of all cardiovascular deaths.  A key to fighting SCA is defibrillation (use of an AED) within a very short period of time from the onset of SCA.

Two Corridor Hospitals Named Among Best for Cardio Treatment

The MedQuarter | November 27th, 2019

Mercy Iowa City and UnityPoint – St. Luke’s Hospital of Cedar Rapids have both received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2019.

They were among only five hospitals in Iowa and 225 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor, which recognizes hospitals participating in the Chest Pain – MI Registry that have demonstrated sustained, top-level performance in quality of care and adherence to guideline recommendations.

“Mercy Iowa City is recognized statewide and nationally for its quality in treating cardiovascular conditions, and to achieve Platinum level for nine consecutive years for treating heart attack is exceptional,” said Sean Williams, Mercy’s president and CEO, in a release. “This is because of a culture committed to the best for our patients.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 700,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year, when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. Treatment guidelines include administering aspirin upon arrival and discharge, timely restoration of blood flow to the blocked artery, smoking cessation counseling, cardiac rehabilitation and more.

The Chest Pain-MI Registry empowers health care provider teams to consistently treat heart attack patients according to the most current, science-based guidelines and establishes a national standard for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of care provided for patients with coronary artery disease, specifically high-risk heart attack patients.

Article originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

Health Technology Fabrication Lab Generate @ UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Opens to encourage innovation at hospital bedside & clinics

The MedQuarter | November 15th, 2019

Cedar Rapids, Iowa— UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids is opening generate @ St. Luke’s to provide hospital and clinic employees and patients access to world class tools to create and fabricate the future of healthcare devices.

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids partnered with Boston-based MakerHealth for the construction and ideation of an open-access medical technology and learning lab. MakerHealth, a spinoff of MIT’s Little Devices Lab in Massachusetts, is a pioneer in hospital makerspaces, and its principals have over a decade of experience bringing the tools of innovation to the point of care so that clinicians and patients can create healthcare devices. This is the first hands-on fabrication lab of its kind in the Midwest and the third of its kind in the U.S.

Create what you can hold in your hand

generate @ UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids will encourage and enable innovation at the bedside or in the clinic. It will be a designated space in the hospital where UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids hospital and clinic nurses, physicians, team members, patients and community partners can transform their ideas for improving patient care into tangible prototypes to be tested and reviewed for implementation.

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids has worked with MakerHealth and the MakerNurse community for nearly two years through a Makerspace in the Cloud license, hosting seven pop-up lab events in the hospital and community that have resulted in 57 projects made by clinicians, with 11 of those already in use at St. Luke’s and its clinics. These projects include a sensor system, designed and made by St. Luke’s Would Clinic Nurse Christina Ross, which was connected to a wound vac device to alert nurses via text message when the system pressure is low. Another innovation created at St. Luke’s was a 3D printed case for medication vials to prevent needle sticks in the operating room made by St. Luke’s nurse Krystle Bragg, and a silicone frame for a Virtual Reality mask created by an interdisciplinary team including Dr. Benjamin Tallman, nurse April Golwitzer both from UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and students Allie Rausch, Paige Nelson, Wenxia Sweeney, Hayley Walton from Coe College in Cedar Rapids. By launching generate, the UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids community will be able to accelerate these projects and expand the culture of innovation across the health system and community.

“I learned about the MakerNurse community about 18 months ago when I was working on my doctoral project,” shares Rose Hedges, St. Luke’s Nursing Research and local MakerNurse Champion. “The program taps into the ingenuity of nurses. For decades nurses have used everyday materials to improve upon and create new tools and devices, which allow us to provide better care for patients. It’s an international program that supports this work.”

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids region-wide access to multidisciplinary tools driven by MakerHealth Operating System

generate @ St. Luke’s will have several rooms within the space for collaborative meetings, a workshop area, digital fabrication equipment such as 3D printers and a laser cutter, and medical grade fabrication materials for designing and prototyping. UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids employees will have access to technology training resources on topics such as 3D printing patient data, creating connected IoT (Internet of Things) health devices, and fabrication of simulation models and smart systems. The facility is powered by a MakerHealth Operating System, which includes onsite technical instruction support (a biomechanical engineer) and on-demand project creation software tools to teach clinicians technical skills needed to build their ideas.

“The best ideas come from the bedside or in the clinics,” said Anna Young MakerHealth co-founder. “Several years ago, we flipped the model of healthcare technology creation by creating smart tools that enable clinicians and hospital staff bring their ideas to life and remain pioneers of their own innovations. UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids has a vibrant community of doers and makers inspired by their care for their patients. We’re thrilled to be pushing the edge of clinical design with them.”

In addition to generate @ St. Luke’s Hospital, there will be two St. Luke’s MakerHealth satellite labs with medical fabrication resources at Witwer Children’s Therapy locations in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. They join a growing network of MakerHealth hospitals including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, Massachusetts, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX and Hospital Negrin in Las Palmas Gran Canaria, Spain.

The generate lab and MakerNurse programming at UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids are possible thanks to philanthropy. St. Luke’s Foundation received a $500,000 gift from the estate of Viola Reth, a former St. Luke’s nurse and teacher who passed away in 2017 at the age of 92.

Reth’s gift will support the generate lab renovation, installation and full-time operation of the makerspace. “Viola Reth enjoyed helping others,” said Mary Klinger, St. Luke’s Foundation president. “We know this through the professions she chose and through conversations with her sister, Irene Curtis. We felt the MakerHealth | MakerNurse project was a just the right blend of education and nursing, both of which were important to Viola. We believe this innovative project is a perfect way to honor Viola and her legacy. Her generous gift makes this innovative project possible.”

“UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids is a national leader in delivering healthcare,” said Carmen Kleinsmith, St. Luke’s senior vice president & chief nurse executive. “Opening generate @ St. Luke’s is another way our regional system looks to develop and support a culture of technology and innovation allowing us to help build a model for the future of healthcare.”

MedQuarter Child Care Feasibility Study Completes Second of Three Phases

The MedQuarter | November 12th, 2019

Children playingLinn County has lost 41% of its child care businesses over the past five years. Lack of affordable, quality child care has many negative impacts on people and communities. Like employers across the region, employers in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District recognize the impact that lack of access to quality and affordable child care can have on employee recruitment and retention.

The MedQuarter recently contracted with Mills Consulting Group of Framingham, MA to perform a feasibility study to research the viability of building a child care center in the District. There are three major components to the study:

1) Child care needs assessment survey
2) On-site focus group meetings
and stakeholder interviews
3) Final report

A child care needs assessment survey was sent to all MedQuarter businesses and 12 business in Downtown Cedar Rapids in September. The assessment survey gathered information about parents’ current and future child care arrangements and needs. Insights were gathered on the demographic and socio-economic composition of the market area, market demand for child care by age and socio-economic status, access to child care, current child care arrangements and costs and child care needs such as scheduling, back-up care, sick child care and the effects of child care issues on work. A total of 849 people participated in the survey, of which 729 have or are planning to have children age 10 or younger in the next three years. A total of 849 people participated in the survey, of which 729 have or are planning to have children age 10 or younger in the next three years.

Mills Consulting Group conducted on-site focus group meetings and stakeholder interviews in October. Interviews with 33 employees and nine employer representatives gathered greater detail on the current landscape of child care in the area, and provided a first-hand look at key issues that parents are dealing with in balancing their work and family issues. While here, Mills Consulting Group also met with representatives from Linn County Community Services – Early Childhood Iowa to discuss child care issues on a county and statewide basis and with a developer who specializes in child care facilities to discuss local codes, requirements and costs for daycare facilities.

The final report will be presented in December. The report will include a summary of data collected as well as key findings from the data, information on competition and pricing of child care in the local area, information on child care assistance currently available to families, management model options for child care centers and approximate capital costs for a child care center in the MedQuarter District.

After the final report is received, the Medical Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District Commission will begin the work of determining whether the issues uncovered in the process can be addressed by creating a child care center that provides the services needed.

Mercy Cedar Rapids Releases 2019 Annual Report

The MedQuarter | November 7th, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (Nov. 7, 2019) – Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids has released its 2019 annual report, demonstrating its commitment to homegrown healthcare, care for our community provided by our community.

Mercy has been rooted in eastern Iowa for nearly 120 years. Growing with community needs, today Mercy is one of few remaining independent healthcare systems. This means decisions about how to best serve our neighbors are made locally, for eastern Iowans by eastern Iowans.

Once again, Mercy has been recognized with many quality awards and other achievements that demonstrate a strong strategic plan, the commitment of compassionate providers, and the delivery of new technology and exemplary healthcare.

Several of Mercy’s notable accomplishments from the past year include:

  • Mercy Neurosurgery Clinic opened, providing back/spine and brain surgery to patients.
  • The Birthplace renovated 100% of its rooms with advanced Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit technology, keeping families together even when a higher level of care is needed.
  • Mercy’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit underwent a $7 million renovation, adding to its already outstanding care.
  • The Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery team celebrated one year of providing exemplary open heart surgery to patients.
  • The Bariatric Surgery team completed its 100th procedure.
  • Mercy was the first hospital to create an anti-human trafficking staff position, assisting 58 survivors, and training 89 school nurses in Cedar Rapids and 2,000 medical personnel in Iowa.
  • Mercy Gastrointestinal Clinic opened in a new space in the 8th & 8th Medical Park building.
  • The hospital achieved reaccreditation by the Joint Commission – a symbol of excellence.
  • The Family Caregivers Center of Mercy received the American Hospital Association’s Hospital Award for Volunteer Excellence in community service.
  • The hospital was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals for the 7th consecutive year.

Visit to read the full community report of fiscal year achievements.

Keeping It in the Family in the MedQ

The MedQuarter | November 4th, 2019

Lisa YoungLisa Young, an operating room supervisor, didn’t decide she wanted to be a nurse until after high school.

Her mom, Jean Hachey, an anesthesia nurse for the OR team at St. Luke’s Hospital, encouraged Lisa to pursue a career in the medical field.

Her mother, a nurse for 35 years, has been a positive influence on Lisa’s career, she said.

Jean always said the MedQuarter Regional Medical District was a comfortable place to work in, where the staff were treated well and supportive of one another. Remembering Jean’s many stories, Lisa’s decision to work in the MedQ too was an easy one.

Lisa started at St. Luke’s in 2004 as a patient care tech in the post-anesthesia care unit. She went on to become a certified surgical technologist, knowing she would return to school to become a registered nurse.

She attended nursing school at Kirkwood Community College and then the RN-to-BSN program at Mount Mercy University. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in May 2018.

A Mother-Daughter Duo

Lisa and Jean now work in the same department and are often seen as a duo. Lisa enjoys working with her mother, she said, adding that Jean is a great role model. When Lisa has questions, Jean knows the answers.

“I still call her ‘Mom,’ which she tries to correct me sometimes and lets people know we are co-workers. She keeps me in check when I need it,” Lisa said. “She is a great resource in the department because she has had over 35 years of experience as a nurse.”

A Family-Like Atmosphere

Lisa is proud to provide world-class care right here in the MedQuarter.

“The patient care is organized, and there are many options available. I really believe the care we provide is the best around. The two hospitals share resources, knowledge and technology, which is nice to have that opportunity,” Lisa said. “If one of us doesn’t know the answers, we can reach out to the other facility to get advice.”

As Lisa celebrates her 15th work anniversary in the MedQ, she appreciates not only her workplace but the culture, amenities and other aspects of the entire district — like the coffee shops, cafes, book fairs and gym.

“The MedQ has a very friendly and positive atmosphere,” Lisa said.