MedQuarter Primed for More Growth in Cedar Rapids

The MedQuarter | July 17th, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Over the last decade, the NewBo District and downtown Cedar Rapids have experienced a boom in popularity and growth.

The district covers 55 square blocks, and it’s been an official district within Cedar Rapids since 2011.Now some people believe the next area to grow like that will be the MedQuarter Regional Medical District, also known as the MedQ, which is the area northeast of downtown, anchored by St. Luke’s Hospital, Mercy Medical Center and Physicians Clinic of Iowa (PCI).

Sitting in the MedQuarter, near St. Luke’s, is Grey’s Pub. The bar and restaurant make the most of its proximity to the hospitals and clinics, as shown in its name.

“Kind of a play off Grey’s Anatomy,” Terra Heaton, manager and partner at Grey’s Pub, said.

A big part of its clientele comes from the 6,000-plus employees who work in the district, many of them from St. Luke’s, Mercy and PCI.

“A lot of them come here for lunch,” Heaton said. “We do offer takeout, so when they have a short lunch hour, they’ll call in their orders and bring it over there.”

Phil Wasta, executive director of the MedQuarter, said its hospitals and clinics total more than 350,000 patient visits annually. He added that having so many options so close together is unique in eastern Iowa.

“Within this area, you’ve got a super high concentration of medical assets–not just two hospitals, but PCI and a lot of private clinics,” Wasta said.

As the MedQuarter continues to grow, Wasta said adding more housing could be on the horizon.

“We have talked to several developers, and we have some ideas that we would like to see happen from a housing standpoint, and a couple of which I really think have legs,” Wasta said.

Housing tastes have been changing, and an appetite for more dwellings toward the city’s center could benefit the district.

“With kind of a shift in the market, we’re seeing more interest in urban housing, and the MedQuarter’s certainly a district where we could have more urban housing,” Caleb Mason, an economic development analyst for the City of Cedar Rapids, said.

Opening more restaurants and retail could also be in the district’s future, along with a childcare center, but Wasta said the main focus is on developing what the MedQuarter does best.

Work that is going on right now could be key to making that happen, according to Mason, who pointed to the construction of a second pavilion at PCI, along with road reconstruction and beautification along 10th Street, as examples of that.

“When developers are coming and looking at areas that they want to redevelop, typically, they’re attracted to areas where they see investment already happening,” Mason said.

That’s something Grey’s Pub is happy to see happen in its neighborhood.

“I just hope that people realize how lucky really we are here in Cedar Rapids to have two amazing hospitals. We have PCI,” Heaton said. “So many things here locally to help the people in our community.”

Originally posted at

Three Sister Organizations Continue Annual Tradition of Spreading Mercy in the Cedar Rapids Community

The MedQuarter | July 11th, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (July 11, 2019) – 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 coming together on Friday, July 19, near the anniversary date marking when the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Cedar Rapids in July 1875.

Now in its second year, Circle the City with Mercy partners look for a unique community service project each year to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the community.

This year, the three organizations will be working at several different building sites for the Wheelchair Ramp Accessibility Program (WRAP), which provides timely home access to people in need by building custom wheelchair ramps for those with limited mobility. Many WRAP clients are elderly or have a chronic illness.

“WRAP is thrilled with the number of volunteers who will give of their time to complete home access projects,” said Angie Ehle, WRAP coordinator. “Each ramp built gives an individual with limited mobility the choice to age in place, improving their quality of life and providing freedom to come and go.  WRAP is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Circle the City with Mercy.”

Sixty Circle the City with Mercy volunteers will build five wheelchair ramps from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on July 19. Prior to the building session, they will gather at 7:30 a.m. at Mercy Medical Center’s Hallagan Education Center for breakfast and a brief program honoring the Sisters of Mercy.  The builds will take place at locations in Cedar Rapids and Marion.

Questions about Circle the City with Mercy may be directed to Kelsey Steines at (319) 731-0448 or Karen Vander Sanden at (319) 558-8424. Inquiries about WRAP may be directed to Angie Ehle at (319) 369-7377 (office), (319) 270-7294 (mobile) or

Nurse Has Found her Work Home

The MedQuarter | July 3rd, 2019

Namira RomeroNamira Romero was still working in Ohio when she applied for a job in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District. She wasn’t quite sure that she wanted to move — until she had the interview.

The respect and appreciation she felt made it an easy choice. She accepted an offer from UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s and made Cedar Rapids her home in October 2015. She works as a surgical nurse in the operating room and loves it.

“Everyone is so caring,” Namira said. “I not only work with intelligent, competent staff, but also people who show me they care about me and make me feel like I am a part of their family.”

And she feels respected and appreciated.

“I feel like I matter, like I have a say in the hospital. I am on a few committees, and I always feel like I am in a safe place to give my opinion and that my opinion counts – not only in my department, but at the hospital level as well,” Namira said.

Namira also likes the diversity of people in the MedQuarter, from new college graduates to 30 years of service, from native Iowans to diverse world cultures.

“I myself am from Pakistan. There are people from other countries, and we all feel welcomed,” Namira said.

The Benefits of Working Here

She also appreciates the unique benefits of the medical district.

Namira notes that patients have a choice of hospitals and often still have the provider they want because many MedQ providers practice at both hospitals. And when a piece of equipment or product is not available, MedQ providers share.

“It is a collaborative effort. It takes each and every person of the team to get the best patient outcome,” Namira said.

The convenience of close-to-work restaurants, coffee shops and repair shops is another plus for Namira.

As is St. Luke’s employee perks program, offering discounts on lots of goods and services.

She also enjoys the gym membership and tuition reimbursement that St. Luke’s offers. Namira was even awarded a full scholarship through the St. Luke’s Foundation for classes to advance her career.

When Namira is not working, she loves spending time with her big family. She also volunteers at her children’s school and enjoys attending their numerous activities.

And that’s another perk of working in the MedQuarter. The job is family-friendly. “St. Luke’s is very flexible with my hours, and I have a good work and family life balance,” she said.

Eastern Iowa Sleep Center Moves to PCI Medical Pavilion II

The MedQuarter | July 2nd, 2019

Eastern Iowa Sleep Center (EISC) announced May 3, 2019, it will be moving to the new PCI Medical Pavilion II located at 275 10th Street, SE. The move is tentatively scheduled for January 2020. EISC, a partnership between PCI, Mercy Medical Center, and UnityPoint-St. Luke’s Hospital, and PCI’s Neurology & Sleep Medicine Clinic will co-locate on the same floor. The EISC Board is excited to bring a new level of care to patients, families, healthcare, providers and communities. Learn more at

Sanford Health, UnityPoint Health announce plans to join trusted brands

The MedQuarter | June 28th, 2019

Both organizations seek to become world leader in personalized primary care

Sioux Falls, S.D. and Des Moines, Iowa – UnityPoint Health and Sanford Health have signed a letter of intent to explore joining their trusted brands as they seek to become the destination for personalized primary care in America’s Heartland. The decision follows considerable exploration between leadership teams from each organization. The two organizations will build on their strengths in clinical care, research, innovation and education to deliver greater health outcomes and value in communities in the Midwest and around the world.

“Sanford and UnityPoint are two successful systems intent on controlling our own destiny,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “We believe that in the very near future, fully integrated health systems will drive greater value through affordable options for high-quality health care to patients, governments and employers. The combination of Sanford and UnityPoint will help both organizations better meet this need, creating a new system positioned for continued growth across a broad geography.”

“Our organizations share a deep commitment to exceptional patient care and a vision for transforming and sustaining health care in our communities,” said Kevin Vermeer, president and CEO of UnityPoint Health. “We are approaching our discussions very purposefully, with a clear and common vision for success. First and foremost, our focus is on people. Working together, we will find new ways to broaden access to care – beyond the traditional settings – and take greater responsibility for the health of the populations we serve.”

With more than $11 billion in operating revenue, the combined company would rank among the top 15 largest nonprofit health systems in the country. The new organization would employ more than 83,000 staff and 2,600 physicians and carry out operations in 26 states and nine countries, including hospitals, clinics, health plans and networks, post-acute care, research, innovation and other lines of business.

While the organizations are still in discussions, they have agreed on certain principles that will guide their work during the next few months:

  • Leadership: The new company would be led by Kelby Krabbenhoft and Kevin Vermeer. Krabbenhoft would serve as president and CEO, and Vermeer would serve as senior executive vice president.
  • Unified Board: A new governing Board would be established for the new company, made up of representatives from both legacy organizations, plus additional unaffiliated Board members with relevant national industry experience and expertise. UnityPoint Health would recommend the inaugural Board chair.
  • Care delivery: Both organizations would continue to operate their respective fully-integrated medical groups and maintain longstanding relationships with independent physicians, hospitals and other health care partners.

    “We will work tirelessly to find the next cures for diseases like type 1 diabetes and breast cancer; train and grow our own physicians, nurses and other medical professionals who commit to providing care in rural America; and offer innovative health and wellness products and telemedicine services to help people live better, get care closer to home and stay healthier,” said Krabbenhoft.

    “As trusted health care brands with deep Midwestern roots, our organizations have worked hard to establish strong relationships in the communities we serve, whether that be a small rural town or a location across the globe. Together, we will build on these relationships to create new opportunities to meet unique community needs and thrive in an ever-changing environment,” said Vermeer.

    The transaction is subject to various regulatory reviews. Timelines are still fluid, but leaders intend for the transaction to be completed, pending regulatory reviews, by the end of 2019.

    About UnityPoint Health

    UnityPoint Health is one of the nation’s most integrated health systems. Through relationships with more than 280 physician clinics32 hospitals in metropolitan and rural communities and home care services throughout its 9 regions, UnityPoint Health provides care throughout Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin. UnityPoint Health entities employ more than 30,000 employees, working toward innovative advancements to become the Midwest’s premier health system known for redesigning the health care experience. For more information, visit

    About Sanford Health

    Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 44 hospitals, 1,400 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have transformed how Sanford Health improves the human condition. For information, visit or Sanford Health News

New Sculptures Now on Display in MedQ Park on 3rd

The MedQuarter | June 28th, 2019

MedQ Park on 3rd Sculptures by Tom Newport
MedQ Park on 3rd Sculptures by Tom Newport

There are a couple new additions to the MedQ Park on 3rd! Thanks to Gilded Pear Gallery, two sculptures are now on display.

Cedar Rapids native Tom Newport created both pieces. Tom graduated from Cornell College in 1977 and has since lived in Cedar Rapids building his own jewelry design and sculpture business. The red sculpture is called “Big Red Arch” and the silver sculpture is called “Forest Burning.”

“My fabricated stainless steel sculptures are often outwardly abstract, but are closely linked to nature and reality. The energy and the vitality expressed in my compositions reflect a subtle inner strength and spirit that expands and interacts gracefully with space and the surrounding environment. My work is inspired by my experience in floral and jewelry design as well as a general observation of the world around me.” -Tom Newport

Coordinated Care Makes the Difference

The MedQuarter | May 29th, 2019

Mike Hessenius

A hallmark of the MedQuarter Regional Medical District is finding all the care you need in one place. More than that, you can count on our providers to work together to meet patient healthcare needs.

Mike Hessenius of Cedar Rapids knows firsthand the benefit of the MedQ’s coordinated care.

Mike has always been an active person, so when his foot was causing him pain and slowing him down, he visited a foot specialist. An ankle fusion was recommended, and he had surgery in November 2011, with an expected three- to four-month recovery.

Although he was a patient at an out-of-state clinic, Mike had weekly care locally at Mercy Wound Treatment Center in the MedQuarter. Mike went to Dr. Warren Verdeck, a foot and ankle orthopedic specialist and then head of the center.

When Mike’s ankle didn’t heal and continued to swell, Dr. Verdeck operated and tested for infection. Blood tests found Staph and MRSA.

MRSA is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body and can be difficult to treat because of its resistance to antibiotics.

After several more surgeries and treatments out of state, Mike went back to Mercy with another infection – this time in the bone. That’s when Mike transferred to Mercy Medical Center to receive the full care he needed.

Treatments continued over the next year. Mike’s infection was gone, but Dr. Scott Ekroth, orthopedic surgeon in the MedQuarter, delivered some tough news — only amputation would completely remove the MRSA to prevent infection from coming back.

Mike wasn’t ready for that step. “I had to see for myself that, no matter how stubborn and bullheaded I was, it was not going to get better,” he said.

Mike agreed to the amputation of his right leg below the knee in summer 2014.

Getting His Life Back

Today, Mike credits the quality, coordinated care he received in the MedQ for his successful recovery. “I was able to come to the same location for my surgeon, prosthetic leg and therapy,” Mike said.

Mercy Treatment Center worked with Clark & Associates Prosthetics and Orthotics to fit him with a leg and foot to suit his needs and active lifestyle. Then Mike moved on to physical therapy at PCI.

“Mike was extremely, highly motivated,” said Jason Willer, a physical therapist at PCI. “He was very active and had a very active lifestyle.”

Jason notes the convenience and efficiency of coordinated care within the MedQuarter. Jason said it was easy to reach a prosthesis specialist or surgeon if he had questions or concerns, because they are all in the same location.

Mike documented parts of his journey with video, including his first time walking with his prosthetic. He shares these videos with amputee patients before surgery to help them know what to expect and to ease their concerns.

“If I can help or make it easier for somebody else to be able to deal with some of the same issues that I had, then I know I can help make an impact for somebody else and make their transition easier,” Mike said.

When not receiving care or working 40 hours a week, you can find Mike at the gym or doing things around his house or yard. He also enjoys motorcycle trips.

He’s glad he found a quality care team in the MedQ and that he put in the work to get well and return to activity. “It’s well worth it in the end because you get your life back.”

East Bound A Ave Closed May 21

The MedQuarter | May 20th, 2019

East bound A Ave will be CLOSED for road work Tuesday, May 21 at 7:00 a.m. – June 11, 2019.

See red-lined closure area.

The MedQuarter: Summer in the Q

The MedQuarter | May 14th, 2019

Did you know that more than 6,000 people are employed within the MedQuarter Regional Medical District in Cedar Rapids? Between large and small employers alike, there’s both a professional medical community and community at large to engage. This summer, the MedQuarter Regional Medical District invites all of those community members to participate in FREE, healthy and fun events right in the District!

A new event series called Summer in the Q offers one community engagement opportunity in the District each month. Events range from a 12-Week Walk Challenge to free lunches in celebration of the District’s 8th anniversary.

The MedQ Mile 12-Week Walk Challenge kicks off on Monday, May 20. Participants of the Challenge can enter the weekly opportunity to win prizes by taking photos of themselves walking on the MedQ Mile and posting them to MedQ’s Facebook page. Weekly winners will receive gift cards to a restaurant, bar or retail location within the MedQuarter. The 12 weekly Challenge winners will be considered finalists in the drawing for the Grand Prize, which will be drawn during the August 8 event. Rules an d guidelines for the 12-Week Walk Challenge can be found here.

Saturday, June 15 – PCI Art Show & Sale / Cedar Rapids Fire Department Open House / Historic Preservation Showcase 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa will transform their Medical Pavilion at 202 10th Street SE into eastern Iowa’s premier art gallery featuring fine art, pottery, jewelry, glass art, fiber art and photography from more than 50 local artists.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The Cedar Rapids Fire Department will host an open house at the Central Fire Station, 713 1st Avenue SE, celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Fire Department.

11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The History Center at 800 2nd Avenue SE will be the epicenter for the “Preservation in Motion” event including free walking tours, bus tours and workshops at the Masonic Library, History Center, Genealogical Society and Ausadie Building.

Thursday, July 25 – Coffee & Sunrise Yoga in the MedQ Park on 3rd
Join us for free coffee and a sunrise yoga session at 6:00 a.m. to start your morning with a peaceful workout before heading to work.

Thursday, August 8 – MedQ Mile 12-Week Walk Challenge Finale
It’s your last chance to walk and participate in the Walk Challenge. Join us over your lunch hour (from 11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.) for a one mile walk around the MedQ Mile before the last of the prizes and Grand Prize giveaway from the 12-Week Challenge. We’ll announce the week’s winner and the Grand Prize at 12:45 p.m. in the MedQ Park on 3rd. Participants must be present to win.

Thursday, September 19 – MedQuarter’s Celebr8tory Anniversary Lunch
There is such thing as a free lunch and it’s on the MedQ! Celebrate the District’s eight anniversary as we offer 100 free grab & go lunches in the MedQ Park on 3rd (located on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Eighth Street SE). Lunches are first come, first serve. September is the MedQuarter’s anniversary month, as the Cedar Rapids City Council officially approved establishing a medical district in Cedar Rapids on September 27, 2011. Learn about accomplishments of the MedQuarter Regional Medical District over the last eight years.

Cedar Rapids’ Core Districts Collaborate to Support New City Bike Share Program

The MedQuarter | May 13th, 2019

May 08, 2019

The City of Cedar Rapids recently announced the first bike share program, which will feature electric-assist bikes and later this year, electric scooters. With the inclusion of a fleet of 150 e-bikes, with 90 bike rack stations throughout Cedar Rapids’ core districts, leaders of each Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) are collaborating to support the new program.

Funding for free bike helmets and educational safety videos, currently being filmed and created by Iowa BIG students, were made possible through contributions from each district including the Downtown SSMID, the MedQuarter SSMID and the Czech Village/New Bohemia SSMID as well as the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.

“As a partner with all three of Cedar Rapids’ core district SSMIDs, the Economic Alliance strives to bring collaboration among all district leaders on long-term strategic plans as well as tactical priorities,” said Doug Neumann, Executive Director, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “This bike share program became the perfect opportunity to execute on that collaborative spirit.”

This is the second time in the core districts’ histories that all have worked together on a single project. The first collaboration was the 2016 Flood Threat sandbag assistance and sandbag removal efforts, and now the support of the City’s bike share program.

Bike share stations and several new on-street bicycle facilities were provided by a generous match grant from the Wellmark Foundation in support of the new program. The full fleet of custom green e-bikes will arrive later this summer. Approximately 20 stations will be operational by May 13, and the locations of each can be found at

“The opportunity to increase a community-wide healthy habit like biking, paired with the opportunity to increase the interconnectedness of all the core districts, aligned perfectly and positively with the MedQuarter,” said Phil Wasta, Executive Director, MedQuarter.

Each District’s logo and branding will appear on the free bike helmets to be given away at the City’s May 13 Bike Share Kick-Off Party, as well as on select bike racks throughout the districts.

“The Czech Village/New Bohemia District appreciates the forward-thinking and proactive City staff who have worked hard to bring this new opportunity to our district,” said Craig Byers, Commission Chair, Czech Village/New Bohemia. “The City of Cedar Rapids deserves a lot of credit and we were proud as a Commission to be able to support the effort.”

“As Downtown sits in the middle of all core districts, we’re thrilled to showcase our vibrant district and continue being the connector for bikers to travel to, and between the MedQuarter, Kingston Village and the Czech Village/New Bohemia districts,” said Jesse Thoeming, Executive Director, Downtown.

Bike Share Program Stations Map - 5-13-19 (PDF)