CEDAR RAPIDS — The doctors of the new Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion want patients to walk into their 221,000-square-foot space next month and feel like they are stepping into an open, mall-like environment, instead of a sterile medical building.
Dr. Thomas Richardson, urologist and president of PCI Medical Pavilion, said Monday during a tour with The Gazette that he hopes they have created a patient-centered, “one-stop shop” where patients can see more than one doctor if needed, complete lab work, have in-office procedures, get the results and pick up prescriptions — all in one building, one visit and with one co-pay.
“The goal is to provide quality and affordable care in a convenient setting,” Richardson said. “Patients can also go down to get coffee at Caribou Coffee (by entrance) while they wait, get a card at the pharmacy or walk the mall — like people do now in shopping malls. We want to promote wellness.”
The $47 million, privately funded project combines all five PCI offices — which includes more than 100 doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and therapists from PCI and from other health care tenants — in one building at 202 10th Street SE.
PCI, founded in 1997, is one of the largest, private, multi-specialty medical groups in Iowa. The pavilion will open April 15.
Other tenants in the building include Clark and Associates — orthotics and prosthetics, Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center of Iowa, Cardiologists, L.C., Envisions Spa and Cosmetic Surgery and St. Luke’s Breast and Bone Health.
Other amenities in the building are CarePro pharmacy and Caribou Coffee Cafe, both of which are open to the public; a Reflection Room for meditation or quiet wait room; Community Resource Center; and a community room for health screenings, classes and community events.
The state-of-the-art, three-story building has numerous windows to provide natural light, enhancing its transparent design, which makes the closure of Second Avenue SE look as if it just continues through the middle of the building.
Each of the medical offices has a different configuration of office space and exam rooms, with varying design schemes.
The current site wasn’t the original choice for the building, according to PCI officials. The board of directors had planned to build in Hiawatha, but in 2008 after city and business leaders asked PCI to stay downtown, as part of the medical district, the project still had some challenges to overcome.
The board decided to go with the new concept of a “medical mall,” which offers a patient-focused design, but because of limited space in the downtown area the design had to be altered and the parking scaled down.
However, in 2010, the city offered PCI $13 million in Tax Increment Financing funds to cover additional costs between the original site in Hiawatha and the downtown site. The council also approved closing Second Avenue from 10th to 12th streets, so PCI would have the space to build its design.
It was approved, but some community members were against the project because historic buildings would be demolished to accommodate the building and a parking garage.
Dr. Robert Brimmer, a general surgeon and a PCI board member, said Monday he realizes there are still some community members who are disgruntled over the project but he thinks the benefits outweigh “the heat” they took over the street closure.
“This is a big deal for PCI and a big deal for Cedar Rapids,” said Brimmer, also a founding PCI board member. “We put over $40 million back into a flood-ravaged community. One of the biggest benefits is that this clinic brings together all the multispecialty groups and we can easily consult with each other on a patient. It will cost the patients less to see more than one doctor (in one visit).”
PCI won’t add to their staffs right away, but as they grow more jobs will be added, which will contribute to the city’s economy, Richardson said. The pavilion already created $16.2 million in construction employment and kept all the PCI jobs downtown. They estimate there will be 2,000 to 2,500 patients and visitors a day. There are two large vacant spaces for future tenants, and those spaces could be used for multiple tenants, depending on space needs.
Richardson said patient convenience and affordability were key to the plan. They made the decision to pursue the mall design, which was gaining traction across the nation with medical professionals, after much research and making site visits in Albany, N.Y., where several exist.
“I’m hoping once people come inside and see what we’ve done, they will understand that we needed the space,” Richardson said. “Each space is unique to the practices’ needs, and we also wanted to ensure each space provided privacy for the patients.”
Richardson also pointed out the windows in the spaces are positioned higher, so people walking by in the lobby can’t necessarily see patients inside. Other examples for privacy are larger spaces and even two private rooms for chemo infusion treatments. There also is a separate entrance for Envisions Spa, which handles cosmetic surgery, from the ear, nose and throat practice.
Richardson said another costs savings for patients are services like the in-house chemo treatments and imaging capabilities at the clinic, instead of going to a hospital, Richardson said. The clinic also has the latest CT machine, which has the lowest dose of radiation in Eastern Iowa.
Michelle Luty, PCI marketing and communications relations, said the machine also has features to help the patients relax during the procedure such as ambient lighting, music preferences and “destination” images, which transforms the room into another location.
Most of the medical and office equipment, furniture and artwork hadn’t been installed on Monday, but Luty said local artists’ work would be featured along the walls and there also will be rotating display that will change periodically.
The main art, two hanging sculptural pieces from the ceiling by the staircase titled “Baroque Garden,” had been installed. Susan Chrysler White, a University of Iowa associate professor, is the artist.
“Baroque Garden was designed to connect with the general theme of the interior design, a floating garden above the river structure alluded to in the serpentine design on the lower level,” White said.