An architect’s drawing shows the modern, state-of-the-art hospital planned for Manning. The project is under construction and is expected to serve as a catalyst for economic development and growth in the Manning area for decades.
An architect’s drawing shows the modern, state-of-the-art hospital planned for Manning. The project is under construction and is expected to serve as a catalyst for economic development and growth in the Manning area for decades.
 Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MANNING — Joined by more than a 100 community advocates, economic-development advocates and government officials the Manning Regional Healthcare Center Monday afternoon officially broke ground for a 62,000-square-foot hospital that is expected to be in operation in the summer of 2014.

 The 17-bed health-care facility will be a critical-access hospital that also can provide substance-abuse treatment for up to 16 patients in a partial residential setting.

 “To me, what is most important is that we are growing for the future, and we’re planning for the future, and not just Manning, but all the areas around us,” said Manning Regional Healthcare Center CEO John O’Brien. “The new facility that’s coming will be very flexible because none of us can tell what’s going to happen with health care over the next 15 or 20 years. I can tell you it’s going to change.”

 The project is buoyed by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s shepherding of a $21 million, low-interest, U.S. Department of Agriculture loan.

 Initial earth work has started at the site in the southwest part of Manning. The goal is to have an enclosed construction site by winter so work can continue through colder weather, hospital officials said.

 Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, said the USDA’s Rural Development Program has approved a 3.375 percent, 40-year loan. Harkin is a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the USDA and the Rural Development Program.

 “The new Manning Regional Health Center facility is designed to meet the growing need for primary and specialty care,” Harkin said Tuesday morning from Washington, D.C., where the Senate is in session.  “The construction of this facility meets many state-of-the-art developments, including energy efficiency and medical technologies, like electronic medical records, which will ensure patients’ health care can be coordinated among all their health-care providers, both locally and across the Midwest and the nation.  The $21 million USDA rural development loan provided a real boost to enable Manning Regional Health Center to be an important center for health care in west central Iowa.”

 Added O’Brien, “Without  USDA, this isn’t happening.”

 U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien, a Dubuque native who attended the Manning ground-breaking, said that since President Barack Obama took office the USDA has provided more than $175 million in loans and grants to more than 20 rural health-care facilities — including Manning, Jefferson and Denison.

 “Rural residents must have access to the best available care, and this medical campus will provide decades of service to the residents of this region,” Doug O’Brien said. “President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities.”

 The two O’Briens are not related.

 Randy Behrens, president of the MRHC board of directors, said bids for the primary work on the new hospital will be let in about three weeks. The project manager is JE Dunn Construction Co. of Des Moines. In total, Manning hospital officials are estimating a price tag in the range of $23 million, but no firm figure will emerge until bids are received, said Chantelle Grove, marketing and public relations coordinator for Manning Regional Healthcare Center.

 The hospital, a private, not-for-profit facility, will finance any costs over $21 million, Grove said. While donations are accepted, there is no planned capital campaign and no local tax dollars are involved in the new hospital project, she said.

 “The options are out there for us to tweak the project to keep it on budget,” Grove said.

 Two years ago, Manning community leaders announced that the West Central Iowa Healthcare Foundation made official a gift to the hospital of 43 acres of farmland at the intersection of Highway 141 and West Street, on the western side of Manning.

 The original “core” of the 17-bed hospital was built in 1926.

 In 1966, Manning Plaza nursing home was built in the central business district as well.

 In the late 1970s the neighboring Manning General Hospital and the Manning Plaza joined and are known today as Manning Regional Healthcare Center

 An integral part of Manning Regional Healthcare Center, the Plaza is a 56-bed long-term care facility. It offers 24-hour nursing care and specialized dietary service. The Plaza also offers recreational programs, rehabilitative services, and social services. Plaza residents have direct access to acute care and specialty services at Manning Regional Healthcare Center.

 John O’Brien said the Plaza will remain in the downtown area. Hospital officials will examine possibilities for repurposing the vacated space.

 “Right now, we’re going to go through a study,” O’Brien said.

 The 13-bed Manning Family Recovery Center, part of the hospital complex, will be moved to the new location, under initial plans. The recovery center was established in 1982.

 Carroll Area Development Corp. executive director Jim Gossett said the launching of the new hospital is a reflection of strong leadership in the City of Manning.

 “A community like Manning shows its pride in the community and its people by its facilities and its programs,” Gossett said. “Manning Regional Healthcare Center is the leading employer in Manning and is an economic driver just as most health-care facilities. You can see the community pride in the ground-breaking today.”

 State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, said the hospital will have positive spin-off effects on the Manning area.

  “This is a statement saying that Manning is here on the map and we’re looking way into the future,” Muhlbauer said. “We have a lot of young people that are coming back to the community, and it’s telling them we want to welcome you and the hospital is going to be here.”