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Mercy to build urgent care center on East Side


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Though the building site was marked only by a small patch of exposed dirt in the parking lot beneath a white tent, it was a beautiful sight for the doctors, nurses, administrators and guests who attended last week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Mercy Capitol Medical Office Building.

In less than a year, Mercy Clinics Inc. expects to open the 17,300-square-foot facility next to its existing medical office building at 1350 Des Moines St., just east of Mercy Capitol hospital. Mercy Capitol Internal Medicine and Mercy East Village Family Medicine will move from the current building to the new facility, which will also house an urgent care clinic.

“People have asked us, ‘Are you leaving?'” said Dr. Leatrice Olson, a member of the internal medicine group. She noted during the ceremony that she and her colleagues completed their training at Mercy Capitol when it was still named Des Moines General Hospital. “This shows our commitment to the East Side,” she said.

The $4.2 million construction project beginning at the Mercy Capitol site is one of several projects Mercy Clinics has under way or planned in Greater Des Moines. Later this month, Mercy Clinics will complete a 21,000-square-foot addition to its East Clinic at 5900 E. University Ave. in Pleasant Hill. Renovation work will begin soon at the Mercy South Clinic at 6601 S.W. Ninth St. Mercy also plans to begin construction later this year on expansions to both the Ankeny and Waukee clinics.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines, Mercy Clinics operates more than 45 clinics at 28 locations throughout Greater Des Moines.

The Mercy Capitol Medical Office Building, which has been in the planning phases for the past year, will open about six months after the scheduled closing of Mercy Capitol in September.

The hospital is scheduled to close shortly after Mercy Medical Center – West Lakes opens in West Des Moines on Sept. 8, which would have meant less accessible emergency services for East Side residents.

“As we started to make plans for closing the Capitol hospital, we felt that we were leaving a void on the East Side that we wanted to fill,” said Dr. David Swieskowski, CEO of Mercy Clinics. “In recognition of that, and to make sure we can continue providing services to patients on the East Side, we decided to build a new facility to do that.”

The three clinics – family practice, internal medicine and urgent care – will each occupy about one-third of the new building and share X-ray, laboratory and other facilities. Mercy Clinics will lease the space from Ladco Development Inc.

“We’re looking at hiring three more physicians when this facility opens,” Swieskowski said. “We need to have the extra physicians to cover the extra hours at the urgent care.”

One of those three new physicians will be added at the family practice clinic.

“We only have two physicians at this location now; we’ll be expanding to three family practitioners,” he said. “Internal medicine will stay at four physicians and a mid-level (nurse practitioner or physician assistant), at least initially. We’ll see what the needs are after that. There is some room to expand those practices in the new building.”

Grouping clinics together to increase efficiency has become increasingly common in medical office building design, said Marty Barkley, a partner with Simonson & Associates LLC. The Mercy Capitol building is the latest of several recent projects Simonson has designed for Mercy.

“The last couple of clinics I’ve done for Mercy, we’ve grouped multiple medical units together, especially family practice and urgent care,” he said. “That’s becoming something they’re doing at almost every clinic now.”

The building’s exterior design will be fairly simple, Barkley said.

“We didn’t want to have something that was too opulent for this area,” he said. “We tried to use materials that kind of blended in with the existing medical building and the hospital, with light, warm tones.”

Also on the East Side, Mercy Clinics is in the final stages of a 21,000-square-foot expansion of the Mercy East Clinic in Pleasant Hill. With that addition, “we’ll be bringing physical therapy, orthopedics, obstetrics/gynecology and cardiology clinics out to that site,” Swieskowski said.

Swieskowski said he hopes expansions to the Ankeny and Waukee clinics can begin later this year, to open sometime in 2010. “They’re in the planning stage, but we haven’t signed any contracts yet,” he said.

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