BY KAY SNYDER
Seven key principles guide your electric power cooperative. The principle “Concern for Community” is demonstrated in the ways co-ops contribute to community vitality by supporting business growth and job creation, assisting with community facilities and infrastructure projects, volunteering, and providing technical assistance and funding to support projects that improve quality of life.
Hospitals are often one of the largest employers in rural areas, and these institutions are essential to the economic vitality of rural communities. Access to good health care consistently ranks among the top priorities for firms when deciding where to relocate or expand and when people consider where they want to live.
Iowa’s electric cooperatives have a long and rich history of supporting the expansion of medical facilities and health care services in Iowa. Here is a look at four recent cooperative-supported projects that secured federal funding for hospital expansion projects.
Iowa Specialty Hospital
In October 2018, Iowa Specialty Hospital broke ground on a new 8,000-square-foot integrated care clinic in Garner. Hancock County is considered a medically underserved area. This new hospital will fill this critical need for Garner and the surrounding area, offering family medicine, occupational medicine, weight-loss management, women’s health and orthopedics, as well as counseling and therapy through primary care, mental health providers.
“We need community services, such as quality health care to keep and attract people to rural areas,” says Tim Marienau, CEO of Prairie Energy Cooperative. “The new hospital in Garner will definitely have a positive impact on our region.”
Prairie Energy Cooperative and Corn Belt Power Cooperative each secured a $1 million pass-through loan from the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant (REDL&G) program to support the $2.5 million new Garner hospital.
“Corn Belt Power supports our member cooperatives and the projects in their communities by partnering together with them to make a larger impact and enhance the rural economy,” says Brittany Dickey, development finance director for Corn Belt Power Cooperative.
Humboldt County Memorial Hospital
The Humboldt County Memorial Hospital (HCMH) is in the process of a $19 million expansion and renovation at its campus in Humboldt. This new 40,000-square-foot, two-story addition is being driven by growth in the hospital’s outpatient service area and the need to provide an expanded, updated clinic setting.
“We are moving toward a consumer-driven environment,” says Michelle Sleiter, CEO for HCMH. “This will allow greater collaboration among our health care providers and better access to all services for our patients as we continue to support their health and wellness.”
The new addition will include space for primary care medical providers through the relocation of the UnityPoint Clinic, inside the hospital. The area will also include outpatient specialty services, rehabilitation services, cardiopulmonary services, diabetic education, dietary support, a patient education area and a new conference center.
“You want to talk about an asset for our community – access to health care in rural Iowa is a big issue,” says Humboldt City Manager, Travis Goedken. “Having a hospital to provide excellent care to our residents is a major benefit.”
Midland Power Cooperative provided a $1 million pass-through loan from the USDA REDL&G program to support this hospital expansion. Corn Belt Power Cooperative also secured $300,000 through the USDA REDL&G program and provided a $60,000 match. The repayment of the $360,000 will go into Corn Belt Power Cooperative’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to support future projects.
Monroe County Hospital & Clinic
Monroe County Hospital & Clinic (MCHC) in Albia is in the process of a $20 million expansion project to upgrade its facilities, allowing for better access to specialized care and outpatient services and providing a safer and more organized environment. The project includes a more accessible waiting room, new parking, covered entrance, and expanded space for consultations, wellness visits and specialty clinics, as well as an updated pharmacy and specialty services area.
“We are excited to partner with Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative (CVEC) for this expansion and remodel project,” says Veronica Fuchs, CEO for MCHC. “Their forward thinking to bring these federal USDA dollars into the community to support this project and then be repaid into the CVEC revolving loan fund to support future projects is a real win for all involved.”
CVEC and Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative (Northeast Power) contributed substantial financial support through the USDA REDL&G program for this project.
“CVEC appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Iowa Area Development Group, USDA and Northeast Power to bring $4.72 million at 0 percent interest financing to the MCHC project,” says Bryon Stilley, general manager of CVEC.
Henry County Health Center
Henry County Health Center (HCHC) in Mount Pleasant recently held an open house to showcase its newest renovations to their Orthopedic & General Surgery Clinics, Physicians & Clinics of HCHC – Mt. Pleasant and the Maternity Services Department.
Access Energy Cooperative has provided support for several HCHC projects in recent years through both the REDL&G program and Access Energy Cooperative’s RLF.
The co-op’s most recent support is $360,000 to help with the purchase of a new ambulance for emergency services, the installation of new X-ray equipment – used extensively by the Emergency Department – and technology improvements and upgrades to the electronic medical record system.
“Access Energy Cooperative is excited about the opportunity to work with the Henry County Health Center through the USDA program on yet another project to enhance medical services provided for southeast Iowa,” says Kim Davis, director of member services and public relations for Access Energy Cooperative.
Northeast Power, power provider to Access Energy Cooperative, also secured a $300,000 grant through the USDA REDL&G program and provided a $60,000 match. Loan repayment will go into each respective RLF, providing an ongoing source of project support.
The REDL&G program has become a tremendous tool that utility partners bring to the table for business and community development. IADG is proud to write the grant applications on behalf of its utility partners for these funds. IADG partner utilities have secured 328 awards – generating $79 million in loans and $51 million in grants – and established 62 RLFs capitalized at $62 million.
“We are excited to be a partner in these projects,” says Grant Menke, USDA rural development state director in Iowa. “Helping rural communities provide easy access to quality health care is an important emphasis. Projects like these only come together through partnerships, dedication and the coordinated efforts of many people working toward the same goal.”
Kay Snyder is the director of marketing and communications for the Iowa Area Development Group.