This aerial drone photo

This aerial drone photo taken Tuesday afternoon shows how large a footprint the new Jackson County Regional Health Center will have as it is being built now through December 2020. Excavators and compactors are working at the site in advance of the official public groundbreaking ceremony, which will be Tuesday at noon on the site, located at the intersection of 17th Street and 211th Avenue, Maquoketa.

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

The landscape has already begun changing at the future site of the Jackson County Regional Health Center, and a groundbreaking ceremony will mark the start of the major construction project.

Hospital officials invite the public to an official groundbreaking ceremony at the site at noon Tuesday, June 18. The new hospital will be located at the intersection of 17th Street and 211th Avenue, Maquoketa, south of Wal-Mart.

“Recognize those individuals who helped make this historic project possible,” the ceremony invitations read. “Celebrate with the community, staff and friends as we usher in this exciting new era.”

The event will include a welcome by hospital officials, recognition of leadership, and a ceremonial groundbreaking.

On Tuesday, Legacy Construction crews were using excavators and compactors to move dirt at the site in preparation for foundation work.

The wet spring slowed earthwork progress somewhat, according to Brad Beyer of Findorff Construction, the firm managing the project along with BWBR architects. However, Beyer said the estimated $36.8 million hospital project is still on pace at this point.

The hospital Board of Trustees will pay for the new facility using $17.87 million in revenue bonds and the rest from its estimated $20 million cash reserves.

The board already paid $683,859 for the 25.8 acres of land it purchased on the south side of Maquoketa. The city of Maquoketa approved voluntary annexation of the property, leaving the hospital to install the public infrastructure (water and sewer) and connecting it to the city.

Patients and visitors would enter the new 71,500-square-foot hospital through one of two main-level entrances, check in at the registration desk, and wait in a single 200-foot hallway. All patient services would be on the main level, including surgery, radiology, lab, rehab, specialty clinics, pharmacy, inpatient care and emergency. Patients could take stairs or an elevator to the lower level for food, classrooms or administration.

The new hospital would be licensed for 25 beds, the same as the current facility. Four emergency department treatment rooms and two trauma rooms would be shared.

Enough land remains for expansion to the north and east for any future hospital or partnering needs.

The current Jackson County Regional Center was built in 1949. Renovations and expansion were added in 1966, 1979, 2001 and 2004. 

A facility study paid for by the hospital noted that large portions of the facility are in “poor condition” or “fair condition,” due to age rather than lack of maintenance. Bringing the facility up to standards would have cost an estimated $16 million.

After much research, discussion and public hearings, the hospital Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to build a new hospital on a new site in the spring of 2018.

The new hospital is expected to be completed by December of 2020.