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Mercy expands in Ankeny


Mercy Medical Center will operate an ambulatory surgery campus in Ankeny, a community medical professionals and city leaders say has outgrown its current health-care facilities.

The 100,000-square-foot building, which will be known as Mercy North, will be constructed at 730 E. First St., a lot Wal-Mart vacated when it built a larger “superstore” in the suburb. The vacant building will be demolished before construction begins in the spring, and Mercy North could open a year later. Development costs could be as high as $15 million.

In addition to the ambulatory surgery center, the new facility will offer medical imaging and other diagnostic testing services, rehabilitation services, physician offices for rotating specialists and an urgent-care center. The new facility will complement the already existing Mercy Ankeny Medical Clinic, which houses a group of nine physicians and has had an 18-year history in Ankeny.

The project is consistent with Mercy’s goal to serve people throughout Greater Des Moines, said Joe LeValley, Mercy’s senior vice president for strategy development. LeValley said physicians at the hospital’s clinic in Ankeny approached Mercy President and CEO David Vellinga about expansion about a year and a half ago, saying they were out of space and were unable to meet the needs of a growing market. Ankeny’s population increased almost 47 percent to 27,117 between 1990 and 2000, U.S. Census figures show.

“With their leadership, we did just that and took a hard look at the data and the fantastic success they have had in this community,” LeValley said. “The need for additional services is very real.”

Physicians from the Delaware Family Clinic will also practice at Mercy North, which will be the first facility in northern Polk County to provide comprehensive medical services.

Shortly after Mercy announced its plans, rival Central Iowa Health System said it was considering building a competing facility in Ankeny. CIHS already operates the Ankeny Clinic, and within the last six months has added two physicians at the clinic, bringing the total to eight.

The health-care group’s plans are far from complete, as executives study projected costs, specific plans for the facility and the types of services they would like to offer at the site.

“This has been on the radar for several months,” said Joe Smith, CIHS’s director of corporate communications. “I don’t think it will be too long before we have some kind of development to announce.”

CIHS continues to focus on its plans to build a hospital in West Des Moines, Smith said, but the company “didn’t want to let the grass grow under our feet as well [in Ankeny].”

After CIHS announced its plans to build in the western suburb earlier this year, Mercy said it was interested in building its own hospital across the street. Currently, the two hospitals are looking at the feasibility of building and operating a West Des Moines hospital as a joint venture.

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