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Regional Health Services conducting capital campaign, construction underway on renovation, expansion

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 04/25/2013 7:04 PM

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CRESCO, Iowa — Work on the $16 million renovation and addition to Regional Health Systems of Howard County in Cresco is underway. Excavators are digging the storm sewer and retention pond, and fencing is up around the perimeter.

Campaign organizers and lead donors gathered at RHS in Cresco last month to launch the RHS capital campaign, "Create Tomorrow's Care," said Connie Kuennen, RHS administrator of Community Health Services, Human Resources and Community Relations and executive director of the RHS Foundation. Board members, RHS staff, donors and other dignitaries broke ground in a ceremony.

"We're on our way," Kuennen said.

The campaign will raise private donations to make improvements to the existing facility, as well as expand the size of the hospital. The project includes 21,000 square feed of renovations and more than 18,000 square feet of new construction and is scheduled to be completed by spring 2015.

"Patient privacy will improve with private inpatient rooms, a waiting area for lab and radiology, and registration check-in kiosks inside the new main entrance on the southeast side of the facility," Kuennen said. "There will be a canopy for covered patient drop-off and pickup."

"Expansion and renovation of our current facility allows RHS to provide county residents excellent care in an environment that is designed for today's technology and patient expectations," said Robin Schluter, CEO of RHS.

Semi-private rooms will be transformed into larger private rooms to provide patients and family members with a more comfortable environment to rest and recover. The new rooms will include handicap-accessible bathrooms and showers and updated heating and cooling systems.

"We're adding a family suite, complete with a kitchenette, restroom and two sleeping rooms for family members of surgery, obstetrics and hospice patients," Kuennen said.

"We have outgrown our current facility," said Donna Thomas, capital campaign tri-chair and president Cresco Bank & Trust Company. "In order to accommodate the number of people who use the hospital's services, we need a new facility that will grow with us."

The hospital plans to better equip the facility for more outpatient services, including larger physical therapy areas and surgical suites.

Dan Evans, campaign tri-chair and publisher of the Cresco Times-Plain Dealer, announced that $1.5 million of the $2.5 million goal had already been raised.

"We are thankful for our lead donors who have committed generous gifts to get us to this point," Evans said.

Lead donors are the Lundak family, Amy Bouska, C US Bank, Cresco Bank & Trust, and the staff, trustees, foundation and auxiliary of RHS.

"Our staff alone has contributed more than $161,000," Kuennen said.

RHS is a nonprofit hospital and gets no tax funding for the expansion or renovation, Kuennen said. The project is being financed through hospital revenue bonds and the capital campaign. RHS has operated in the black for the last 10 years.

"A gift to this campaign is really an investment in the future of Howard County," said Ronda Hughes, campaign tri-chair and co-owner of Hoines Pharmacies. "This campaign will give patients peace of mind knowing that their medical center is state-of-the-art and will be able to provide the care they may need."

The capital campaign kickoff marked the start of the public phase of the campaign. People can make cash gifts or pledges; gifts of grain, stock or life insurance; or explore using IRA rollover funds.

Other members of the capital campaign steering committee are Pat Boyle, Carol Burnikel, Don Davis, Tim Felderman, Jerry Ferrie, Katie Hudek, Dr. Paul Jensen, Wayne Kerian, Barb Prochaska and Max Schmidt. Jack Thomson is honorary campaign chair.