Health Enterprises of Iowa is a nonprofit company that strives to provide select medical services in a community-based manner. HEI is jointly owned by a group of more than 20 of the state’s hospitals — including Skiff Medical Center.
About two years ago, the company got the idea to build its own state-of-the-art medical laboratory so it could provide Iowans with another valuable service. Newton was chosen to house this new laboratory, and just last month, after about a year of renovation, it finally became fully active.
HEI Medical Laboratory Director Deb Corlew is excited about the potential for this new facility, which is located at the former Maytag Corporation headquarters on the western edge of downtown Newton.
“This lab is unique because we are currently doing hospital work for Skiff Medical Center, and then we plan to get reference testing from a number of different hospitals,” Corlew said.
Corlew said that a number of Iowa’s hospitals have to go out of state to get testing completed, and she envisions her laboratory becoming a regional destination for them. However, she said, servicing the local patients at Skiff and other HEI hospitals is still a top priority.
“(HEI) is always looking for ways to help their member hospitals,” Corlew said. “There are a lot of tests that we will be able to do on a daily basis.”
She added that by forming this lab, they are saving hospitals a lot of money, which has become invaluable, as many smaller regional hospitals in the state are looking for more and more ways to cut costs.
Skiff has been no exception to this situation. Corlew said it was part of Skiff’s strategic plan to partner with HEI on this lab. Since the new lab has been functional, Skiff has closed its lab facilities.
“By being close to Skiff Medical Center, we were able to take most of the laboratory services out of the hospital and place them here,” Corlew said. “Right now, we are just doing work for Skiff, but a few months down the road, we will have other hospitals that we will be doing work for. We just hope to keep growing from there.”
The lab does all clinical tests involving blood and bodily fluids. HEI has 13 staff members at the lab and three phlebotomists who are still stationed at Skiff. Corlew wanted to clarify that if patients needed blood drawn, they should still go to Skiff.
She said the phlebotomists are available 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Corlew said the proximity to Interstate 80, and the available space for possible expansion at the current location helped make Newton such a desirable location for HEI to place its newest endeavor.
“Hopefully, it will grow to be a really big and busy lab. That’s the other part about the community interest. We hope to grow jobs here as well,” Corlew said.
HEI is planning on holding an open house some time in July to showcase its newest facility, and it is open to the community.
Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at email@example.com.