Steindler says North Liberty ambulatory surgery center vital for competition

Orthopedic clinic files Certificate of Need application for $17.9 million plan

An extended front view of the proposed Steindler North Liberty Ambulatory Surgery Center, with an inset showing the larger Steindler campus development. IMAGE VIA STATE HEALTH FACILITIES COUNCIL

In the wake of the State Health Facilities Council’s Aug. 31 approval of the University of Iowa Health Care’s certificate of need application for a new $395 million facility in North Liberty – a project that broke ground Oct. 14 – Steindler North Liberty is asking the same state council to approve a certificate of need application for a new ambulatory surgery center.

Steindler Orthopedic Clinic had announced plans in February to relocate operations from its four-acre, 36,000-square-foot clinic building in Iowa City to a 36-acre medical campus near the intersection of Forevergreen Road and Highway 965, near the site of the UI Health Care facility now under construction. That transaction, which includes plans for a 71,000-square-foot Steindler Orthopedic Clinic, a physician office building, acute care hospital, general market hotel and space for future development, is expected to close later this year.

Steindler’s new certificate of need (CON) application proposes adding a $17.9 million freestanding ambulatory surgery center at the North Liberty site, to be wholly owned by Dr. Taylor Dennison, a partner and orthopedic surgeon at the Steindler Orthopedic Clinic.

In the CON application, Steindler officials say the new facility is needed to keep the costs of outpatient orthopedic procedures in check by providing a competitive option, to develop operating rooms with adequate space to accommodate robotic surgery procedures, and to provide private physicians in Johnson County “a competitive chance at staying in private practice,” especially considering UI Health Care’s new project.

“Without SNLASC’s ASC Steindler Orthopedic Clinic, surgeons will be forced to seek alternatives for their patients outside of Johnson County, increasing the difficulty in accessing care, time, and cost to patients for access,” the application states.

An overview showing plans for the 36-acre Steindler health care campus in North Liberty. IMAGE VIA STATE HEALTH FACILITIES COUNCIL

Steindler currently performs outpatient orthopedic surgeries in partnership with Mercy Hospital Iowa City and the Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center. Steindler’s surgeons do not perform procedures at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

“Steindler Orthopedic Clinic surgeons have been exceptional and loyal providers of orthopedic physician services to Mercy Hospital Iowa City’s patients,” the application reads. “However that argument ignores the truth, today, Mercy Hospital Iowa City offers century-old infrastructure and is in a financial condition that severely restricts its ability to invest in repairs or new technology and is actively seeking a buyer or affiliation partner.”

The application also says the UI Health Care development in North Liberty is changing the area’s private health care landscape, and the Steindler facility would meet a rapidly increasing demand for ambulatory surgery procedures at a cost 40 percent lower than traditional hospital facilities.

“By any reasonable sensibility, given its distance from the specialized care at the main UIHC campus, the UIHC North Liberty project is clearly targeting the patient population traditionally served by the private practice community in Johnson County,” the application says. “… Private practice physicians in Johnson County need a fighting chance. The North Liberty area development and, specifically UIHC’s CON (point) to where the market in Johnson County is going. and that is precisely why UIHC is seeking to build a new hospital in North Liberty. What payers, patients, the community, and private physicians NEED, and what this Certificate of Need application represents, is a choice. That is competition. A choice will keep costs competitive, and that only happens if the choice includes a choice in modern facilities that are lower in cost.”

Steindler’s application is tentatively slated to be heard by the State Health Facilities Council in February 2022.