An Extraordinary Vision

Learn how the biggest project in Mary Greeley Medical Center’s history will enhance patient care.

Brian Dieter walks through the halls of Mary Greeley Medical Center, pausing frequently to chat with a member of the nursing or guest services staff.

Then something catches his eye and he stops. Dieter, the medical center's president and CEO, stands outside of a patient's room that is filled with visitors. One visitor sits in a chair.

Another leans up against the wall. A third finds a perch on the radiator. This crowded scene, he says, is part of the motivation behind Extraordinary Visions, the largest facility improvement in the history of Mary Greeley Medical Center.

"We're growing in the number of people we treat. We're growing in the services we can provide and the technologies we have available," says Dieter. "It's time for the medical center to grow to better serve the people of central Iowa."

Larger, more efficient rooms that will improve the experience of the patient as well as the visitor, are one of the central components of the project. Other features include a six-story tower housing such services as medical surgery and telemetry; an expanded emergency department; a new main entrance with an enclosed skywalk; and a new power plant.

Work on the estimated $129 million project began in early September and is expected to be completed in 2015, in time for the medical center's centennial in 2016.

"Mary Greeley Medical Center is a valued asset to Ames and our surrounding counties and communities," says Anne Campbell, mayor of Ames. "The medical center's expansion will strengthen us and make the area more attractive for present and future residents and businesses. Everyone in Ames, Story County and well-beyond should be excited about this."

The capital project will be funded with a mix of health care revenue bonds ($63 million), funds designated by the medical center's Board of Directors ($60 million), and philanthropic support ($6 million). Mary Greeley Medical Center is not tax supported; the revenue bonds will be paid for by hospital revenue. Learn more about the Extraordinary Visions capital campaign.

"We've managed our finances well and, as a result, are in a strong position to re-invest in Mary Greeley Medical Center," says Dieter. "When we re-invest in the medical center, what we're really doing is re-investing in our service area—improving patient care, improving the patient experience, improving the quality of life in central Iowa."

Focus on Patients

The project will be done in three phases. "This is a major undertaking, but we've planned it in stages to minimize disruptions to our patient care," says Dieter.

Phase 1 will involve construction of a six-story tower on the west end of the main building and two stories on the existing west wing of the building. The tower and two new floors will provide enhanced space for a variety of patient care areas, including the medical telemetry unit, medical surgical unit and oncology unit. A rooftop garden is also planned to provide a comforting and relaxing place for patients and families. Phase I also will incorporate sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible construction practices, with the goal of achieving LEED Silver certification, which recognizes building sustainability.

The main work on Phase II will start near the completion of Phase I, which is scheduled for Spring 2014. Phase II will involve construction of a new two-story main entrance addition, which will create canopied entry areas for the medical center and Emergency Department. It will also create space for a new lobby with the admitting desk, valet services, gift shop and coffee shop. Phase II will also see the construction of an enclosed sky-walk that will connect the second level of the parking ramp to the new entrance area.

During Phase II, new windows and insulation will be added to the existing building to improve energy efficiency. The exterior will be refaced to match the exterior of the new structures.

Phase II is scheduled to be completed by Winter 2014.

Phase III will focus on the relocation and expansion of the Emergency Department and new ambulance garage on the east end of the building. This phase will greatly improve patient flow, access and service in the Emergency Department.

Phase III is expected to be completed Summer 2015.

Another important aspect of the project is the creation of a facility for new electrical, steam, hot water and chilled water generation plants and equipment that will support the current and future heating, cooling and energy needs of the medical center.

Bigger, Better Rooms

The new tower will feature generously sized patient rooms that are designed to accommodate new technologies. Each new room will be 240 square feet, compared to the current 168 square feet. Bathrooms will be 80 square feet, compared to the current 23 square feet. They also will have universal design features, such as zero threshold showers. There will be distinct areas for patients, staff and families. For example, there will be space for a sleeper sofa for family members who want to stay overnight with a patient.

To develop a space that delivers an effective, comfortable environment for patients, Mary Greeley Medical Center created a mock room and invited medical center staff and physicians to tour it and comment.

"Many recommendations have come out of our physicians, nurses and others visiting this space and telling us how it could be designed or equipped to better serve patient care," says Dieter. "These new rooms have been shaped by the people who will use them most and who are dedicated to excellent patient care."

Ready for the Future

This will be the first inpatient addition project at Mary Greeley Medical Center since 1994, when the west wing was added. It is also the first major addition project since 2000, when the medical center's north addition was built. It houses the William R. Bliss Cancer Center, the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and Bessie Myers Auditorium.

Mary Greeley Medical Center has continued to grow not only in patient numbers, but also the services it offers.

In 2004, the medical center had 9,279 inpatient admissions. In 2009, that number grew to 9,748. By 2014, it is projected to reach 10,300.

There were 21,217 emergency room visits in 2004 and 24,585 in 2009. Emergency room visits are projected to climb over 27,000 by 2014. "In 2010, we treated patients from more than 100 Iowa communities, most of them from central Iowa, which says a lot about our vision to be the medical center of choice in this region," says Dieter. "We definitely are caring for more people, but we also have more skills and technology to serve them. We now need to make sure our facility grows along with this demand."

Outpatient visits in 2004 totaled 123,940. In 2009, they had reached 139,990, and by 2014 they are expected to exceed 150,000.