CEO Mark Richardson jokingly said Tuesday that the groundbreaking ceremony for Great River Health Systems' new nearly $7 million clinic in Keokuk was supposed to be held the day before, but he thought it would be too warm. That drew laughter from the roughly 30 people in attendance who huddled together as a bitter wind whipped around them.
The ceremonial groundbreaking, complete with white hard hats and golden shovels, took place a couple hundred yards from where construction was already underway. The clinic will be located along Keokuk’s Main Street, between the Hampton Inn and Sonic. GRHS bought the three acre site from the city for $250,000.
GRHS acquired a clinic near the hospital in Keokuk about five years ago.
Richardson said its eventual replacement will be about five-times the size of the current location with top of the line equipment and services. He said that’s crucial in the recruitment of specialists to rural areas.
“It’s hard to find physicians to move into rural areas today, to be able to really attract new doctors and physicians assistants, nurse practitioners to Keokuk,” said Richardson. “We really felt we needed the facilities to do that. So I really think this will help spur our recruitment. It will help us bring more providers in and certainly better serve the community needs.”
Richardson said construction is expected to last 10-12 months. He said that’s why he was glad to be part of the groundbreaking on Tuesday, because he is stepping down at the end of the year after 20 years as CEO.
The clinic is expected to provide both urgent care as well as specialty services, based on the providers available.
Richardson said expansion is crucial to the future success of GRHS. It recently purchased a primary health care provider in West Point and has land in Burlington and Fort Madison that could be used for future expansions.