Work underway on $16 million renovation at Dubuque hospital

A $16.4 million renovation at a Dubuque hospital aims to offer more efficient and private services to patients needing X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds and other procedures.

The renovation of the imaging services unit at MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center recently kicked off. The work includes extensive remodeling and new equipment that will allow the hospital to accommodate growing demand and allow patients to undergo procedures more quickly.

“It’s a significant investment in our radiology, our imaging equipment so we can provide the highest-quality scans to the community,” said Sue Meade,regional vice president of professional and support services and human resources for MercyOne Eastern Iowa.

The renovations include an approximately 3,500-square-foot addition that will be partly filled by an MRI suite with a new MRI machine that allows patients to undergo scans faster.

“Right now, our average scan is usually about 40 minutes to an hour, and a lot of the scans (with the new machine) will be as low as 15 minutes to a half-hour,” said Christie Schwager, director of imaging services for MercyOne in Dubuque and Dyersville, Iowa. “Most people don’t like MRIs because they go into a tunnel, so that will help patients as well because they won’t spend as much time in there.”

MercyOne officials also are replacing X-ray and fluoroscopy machines and upgrading the two CT scanners to models with improved speed and imaging capability. Both nuclear medicine machines also will be replaced.

Officials also will add a second ultrasound examination room as more people undergo the procedure as an alternative to those that require radiation. Meade noted that both ultrasound and CT services have grown in recent years and are expected to continue growing in the future.

“Ultrasound is a very important imaging exam, and the volume of that continues to grow, so we will be adding a second room,” Meade said.

The renovations also include updates to the physical space in the unit, with just about every room being touched, Schwager said.

One of the first renovated spaces expected to open is a new lobby that will be shared with the lab and radiology department and will allow for greater patient privacy. There also will be new dressing rooms, an additional MRI screening room and other new spaces.

Exam rooms will be expanded to accommodate the new equipment and deliver a better patient experience, Meade said. Rooms for various procedures also will be moved to improve patient flow.

“It was with patient comfort in mind, but also with safety, making sure we made the experience as safe as possible and as private as possible for the patient as we can,” she said.

Work on the project started in January and is expected to span about 18 months.

“I think we’re all excited … to be able to see it, to be able to provide those better services to our patients and more private care to them and just for the staff to have a better workflow, too,” Schwager said.