BY KAY SNYDER
At the heart of the principles that guide Iowa’s electric cooperatives is the desire to improve the lives of the people and communities they serve. Access to medical care can be paramount to individual and family survival. In addition, hospitals and clinics are often among the largest employers in rural areas and are essential to the economic vitality of rural communities.
For decades, Iowa’s rural utilities have leveraged the federal United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant (REDL&G) program to provide funding for projects that create or retain employment in rural areas. Local utilities pass through zero-interest loans to local businesses or create and grow revolving loan funds to support projects through program grants.
In fiscal year 2022 alone, Iowa led the nation in securing REDL&G funding for 26 projects, bringing $28.6 million to the state to support projects.
“Iowa has developed an impressive system to support growth in rural Iowa,” says Theresa Greenfield, USDA Rural Development state director for Iowa. “From the rural utility providers identifying and supporting impactful projects to the grant writing and technical support from Iowa Area Development Group to the involvement of the USDA Iowa staff. I am proud to recognize all who contributed to another record-setting year through the REDL&G program.”
Many of the REDL&G awards support healthcare projects. Here is a snapshot of some of the current projects that Iowa electric cooperatives sponsored.
Pharmacy in Parkersburg
Brent Bovy, pharmacist and owner of Reinbeck Pharmacy, expanded his business by acquiring an existing pharmacy in the neighboring town of Parkersburg. Now operating as Parkersburg Pharmacy, the space has been renovated, including the addition of consultation and vaccination rooms.
Providing vaccinations is a much-needed service that will assist in reducing the spread of infectious diseases among the elderly and at-risk individuals. Parkersburg Pharmacy also offers free delivery to residents in Parkersburg and surrounding Butler County communities. Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative secured a REDL&G pass-through loan to support the Parkersburg pharmacy.
Health and wellness clinic in Peosta
Plans are moving forward to construct a new health and wellness clinic in Peosta, expected to open in 2024. To be called Vive IV Therapy, the clinic will consolidate and expand the services of three existing businesses operated by owners Stephanie Grutz and Alex Goerdt. The clinic will provide a wide range of services to support those with complex illnesses, such as cancer and long COVID-19, to those seeking preventative strategies. The facility is expected to be 4,500 square feet, offering space for patient care, community and educational activities, and flex rooms. Central Iowa Power Cooperative is providing a REDL&G pass-through loan, and Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative will serve this community asset.
Medical clinic in Moville
The Moville Area Medical Clinic is constructing a new 15,000-square-foot, bi-level medical facility in Moville. MercyOne is leasing the current space and will continue that relationship in the new state-of-the-art facility. The clinic will include 12 exam rooms, a conference room for patient and community education, a teleconference room and a digital X-ray machine. The clinic is located near the school parking lot, which will allow for helicopter landings. A drive-through area will accommodate testing and immunizations.
Woodbury County Rural Electric Cooperative supported this new facility by securing a loan and grant through the REDL&G program.
Maternity center in Clarion
Iowa Specialty Hospital in Clarion experienced a 175% growth in the number of babies born in the labor and delivery department over the past five years. This prompted a project to remodel its existing hospital footprint to add additional labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms, and specialty clinic space. The project is expected to be complete in 2023. Prairie Energy Cooperative and Corn Belt Power Cooperative provided REDL&G pass-through loans to support the expanded services.
Outpatient and mental health counseling clinic in Humboldt
Humboldt County Memorial Hospital is a 21-bed, county-owned critical access hospital in Humboldt. Construction is underway on a 3,200-square-foot addition to house an outpatient therapy and mental health counseling clinic. In addition to patient rooms, two play therapy spaces will be available to support counseling for children. Therapy areas within the clinic will also be equipped with telemedicine technology allowing for off-site support and services as needed. The clinic is expected to be complete in early to mid-2023.
Midland Power Cooperative and Corn Belt Power Cooperative provided REDL&G funds for this project.
The cooperative principle of concern for community is demonstrated by helping rural communities provide easy access to quality healthcare. Projects like these are only possible through partnerships, dedication and the coordinated effort of many people working toward the same goal. Electric co-ops are proud to play an active role in supporting the vitality of Iowa’s rural communities.
Kay Snyder is the director of marketing and communications for the Iowa Area Development Group.