Regents approve Children’s Hospital design


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The University of Iowa is set to start construction on a new tower to house its Children’s Hospital after more than two months of planning.

The state Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday to approve designs for the new tower.
The $271 million, eight-level project is slated to house 195 patients; it will be funded through University Hospital’s Building Use Funds, UI Hospitals and Clinics Revenue Bonds, and Hospital Gift Funds.

UI Medical Affairs officials expect to complete the new facility by 2015.

“I feel this is a very positive day for the future of the UIHC and for a well-needed children’s hospital,” said Jean Robillard, the UI vice president for Medical Affairs.

Officials first brought the proposal for a new hospital before the regents last year before they suffered the loss of a competitive $100 million federal grant to Ohio State University.

In December, Medical Affairs officials told the regents they planned to move forward with the Children’s Hospital even if they didn’t receive the grant.

Though regents approved the design Thursday, Regent Michael Gartner expressed concern about the amount of debt the UI will face with the project.

Officials should be prepared to take on debt in the range of $150 million by fiscal 2013 a result of the building project, said Ken Fisher, an associate vice president for Medical Affairs and CFO.

“But the main thing is that we get the chance to meet the needs of all Iowa children,” said Children’s Hospital pediatrics head Tom Scholz.

The regents also approved the planning for the UIHC’s Primary Care Clinic project in North Liberty. That decision followed the regents’ December approval for the UIHC’s purchase of roughly 40 acres of property near Forevergreen Road and Highway 965 in North Liberty.

UIHC officials estimate the clinic size will be roughly 20,000 square feet and cost around $6 million to be funded through the University Building Use Funds.

“Any projects we can get off the ground at this time, we plan to,” said Ken Kates, an associate vice president for Medical Affairs and CEO.

The regents also approved other upgrades, including improved lighting and efficiency updates to the Hardin Library, totaling $2,515,000 funded through a Department of Energy grant and the general-education building renewal and equipment funds.

UIHC officials retracted the UI Family Care Center proposal. The plan called for rebuilding the center on the Hawkeye campus, projected to cost $14.6 million.

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