The new UIHC facility will provide more accessible medical care to an area where many residents must seek primary care services outside of their communities.
A new University of Iowa Health Care facility specializing in primary care services is slated to open in 2025 in southeast Iowa City.
While the project is in the beginning stages of development, the facility’s planned location will increase access to health care in an area of the city with the fewest primary care options.
“In order to build strong neighborhoods and a healthy community, we need to make sure everyone has access to high-quality health care,” Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague said in a press release. “By placing primary care services in this currently underserved neighborhood, we can have a positive impact on the health of our community for years to come.”
According to UIHCthe university started the request for proposal process but has not decided on the developer or the exact location of the new facility in the selected area.
“By adding services in southeast Iowa City, we are increasing access and reducing barriers for individuals seeking high-quality care,” Kim Hunter, interim chief executive officer and chief nurse executive at UIHC, said in a statement.
“There are a lot of people in the neighborhood that don’t have the time or mobility available to drive all the way across town,” Bovey said. “With the medical clinic on this side of town, you know, it would make a lot of people very happy to know that medical care is easier to access.”
With a lack of nearby primary care options available, some residents of the South District must consider workday availability, child care, transportation, and other conflicts before seeking care.
To reach existing medical facilities, Bovey said some South District residents may need to cross the highway, which is not ideal for people.
“The only way to cross the highway is either by car or bike or on foot, and a lot of our residents are not game for that on foot, and they don’t have cars,” Bovey said. “I’m lucky I have a car. I’m also lucky that employers that I am able to work for are usually pretty cooperative about needing to have time off if I’m not well. That’s definitely a privileged thing that not everybody can claim.”
Audra M. King, another southeast Iowa City resident, also expressed her support for how the new facility will reduce the challenges for residents in accessing health care.
“I think that something physically on this side of town would open up so many doors for people that have just hurdles that maybe other people don’t have,” King said. “It really just kind of levels the playing field a bit more by having a facility like this embedded in the community versus the expectation that people will always be able to, you know, go across the river or take the bus or find a ride or whatever.”
As a parent, King said having a nearby primary care facility would also make it easier if any of her kids needed medical attention.
“While I have a primary care doctor that I’m very comfortable staying with, if there’s a facility that makes it easier for us to run the kids to the doctor when they get sick or, you know, receive their primary care and then still be able to get them all to school more quickly so they miss less school, I’m all about that,” she said.
King, who works for the UI Carver College of Medicine in the Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum, added that while the closer location of the facility will be beneficial for traveling reasons, it also may make receiving health treatment less intimidating to residents.
“I feel like having something on the east side of town, it’s kind of like having it on your own turf, like you’re in your community where you feel comfortable, and [that] might make it a little bit easier for people to take advantage of the services,” she said.