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Published on July 02, 2008

Flood Update

Mercy Medical Center Emergency Department re-opens

Hospital now fully operational following patient evacuation period

Cedar Rapids-Mercy  Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, is pleased to announce its Emergency Department (ED) is now open and serving patients.  The ED was closed, along with other Mercy programs and services, following the patient evacuation that took place on June 13.  Mercy has since been bringing back patient services in phases, beginning with the re-opening of Hall Radiation Center on June 16.  The re-opening of the ED means the hospital is now fully operational.

Mercy's Emergency Department was previously located on the ground floor and was one of the areas impacted by flood waters.  While that area is being cleaned and renovated, the ED has been temporarily re-located just inside the Hallmar entrance on the north side of the facility.  The ED continues to offer its full range of emergency services including diagnostic and interventional testing, trauma capabilities and continued Fast Track services for minor injuries and illnesses.

Walk-in patients can access the ED by parking in designated areas next to the Hall  Radiation Center parking lot (on the north side of the hospital) and entering the hospital through the  Hallmar entrance.  Valet parking is also available just outside the Hallmar entrance.  Ambulances will utilize a separate driveway off 10th St., bringing patients into the ED through the Hallmar entrance.    

Meanwhile, Mercy continues the process of cleaning and renovating areas of the hospital directly impacted by flooding on its basement and ground floor levels.  Disaster recovery professionals are working continuously to complete that process.

A registered professional industrial hygienist has also been carefully monitoring air quality within the facility.  His findings indicate that Mercy has not only met, but exceeded required guidelines for patient-safe environmental conditions, even in areas directly impacted by flood waters.

"We are proud to once again provide our patients with a full range of health care programs and services," says Tim Charles, Mercy's President and CEO.  "The tremendous progress we've made these past three weeks is a reflection of Mercy's dedicated and hard-working employees.  They have remained focused and have demonstrated great diligence through this entire process.  Our promise to patients, and our collective goal, is to be better than ever."


Industrial hygienist: Mercy meets safe air guidelines    

June 26,2008

Cedar Rapids-Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, continues its process of re-opening following a flood-related patient evacuation period beginning June 13. The hospital has restored most of its programs and services, and is now treating patients requiring overnight stays.  

Mercy has been working in close cooperation the past two weeks with registered professional industrial hygienist Slade K. Smith, Building Environmental Management Corporation, as well as with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals to meet rigorous guidelines for re-opening. Inspections have included hourly air quality checks throughout the facility. The hygienist has determined that Mercy has not only met, but exceeded the required guidelines for patient-safe environmental conditions, even in areas directly impacted by flood waters. 

"Mercy aggressively addressed indoor air quality issues from the onset of the flooding," says Dr. Mark Valliere, Sr. Vice President of Medical Affairs & CMO. "Tests included measurements for specific parameters such as carbon monoxide, temperature, relative humidity and pressurization. Since wet materials were immediately removed from the hospital, we averted issues with mold and mildew. Inspectors continue to monitor air quality throughout the facility so patients can be assured they are in a safe health-care environment."

Rooms and treatment areas in Mercy's inpatient tower were unaffected by the flood. Additionally, the ventilation and filtration efficiency systems serving patient units and operating rooms remain safe for all patients, including those with pulmonary diseases, pregnant women and surgery patients.

The ten percent of the facility that did come in contact with flood water, which includes the basement and portions of the ground floor, have been isolated and are being cleaned and sanitized by professionals with expertise in disaster recovery. Those areas have a separate air filtration system and plastic barriers are in place at all stairwells and entrances leading to the unaffected areas of the hospital. Reconstruction and remodeling of those lower level areas is scheduled to begin in early July.      

Additional Flood Recovery Information

Mercy has re-introduced its Fast Track services within the Emergency Department. Fast Track is designed for walk-in patients with less serious injuries or illnesses. Patients can access Fast Track through the Hallmar entrance on the north side of the hospital. Complete Emergency Department services should be available by early next week.   


Hallmar residents return home following evacuation   

June 24, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, continues its efforts to become fully operational in the wake of damaging flood waters earlier this month.  The hospital today re-opened the Cardiac Stroke Center, Intensive Care Center, Pulmonary Medicine Center, the Birthplace and inpatient renal dialysis services.  The hospital's medical/surgical departments are available and will open as patient demand requires.

While the Emergency Department is not yet ready to re-open, Mercy anticipates re-introducing its Fast Track services tomorrow.  Fast Track services are designed for walk-in patients with less serious injuries or illnesses.  Patients will be able to access Fast Track by entering through the Hallmar entrance on the north side of the hospital. 

Mercy also is pleased to announce that Hallmar residents who had been evacuated from the hospital's nursing home facility on June 13 began returning home today.  In all, 44 residents were taken to local nursing homes, or went to stay with family members, during the evacuation period.  The returning residents were welcomed back by cheering Hallmar staff members and other Mercy employees.


Mercy  Medical  Center moves closer to becoming fully operational

June 23, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Mercy  Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, continues the process of cleaning up from recent flood damage and restoring its patient services.  Mercy today re-introduced the Treatment Center, outpatient surgery and endoscopy services.  Also, the Wound Center, previously located on the hospital's ground floor, opened in a new, temporary location at the Mercy Health Plaza, 5264 Council St. NE.    

Mercy services restored last week include: Hall Radiation Center, Pain Management Center, Neurodiagnostics, LifeBack and the Women's Center. 

Tomorrow the hospital will resume inpatient surgery and re-open the Surgical  Inpatient Center.  Additionally, the Cardiac Stroke Center, Orthopaedics Center, Intensive Care Center, inpatient EKG and ECHO services and a mobile MRI unit will begin operations on-site.  Outpatient EKG and ECHO services will be temporarily located off-site at the Mercy Health Plaza. 

The Hallmar residents who were evacuated from Mercy due to rising flood waters on Friday, June 13, will begin returning to their homes at the hospital's nursing care facility tomorrow.  Forty-four Hallmar residents were temporarily placed in local nursing homes or taken to live with family members during the evacuation period.

The hospital remains on schedule for being fully operational by the end of the month.                                


The Mercy  Fitness Center will be opening its doors to members of the YMCA

June 23, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Beginning Monday, June 23, if you are a member of the YMCA, you will need to bring your YMCA key-card and a picture ID. You will be required to fill out a health history form (the first time you use the facility, please allow a little extra time for this process) and to sign in. Mercy Fitness Center does have showers but does not have towel service. It's also required that no street shoes be worn on the floor or used on the strength training machines. One staff person from the YMCA will be on-site to help you through the process. Children 12-14 must be accompanied by an adult. Children under 12 are not allowed in the facility.

Here are the hours YMCA members can use the facility:

Monday 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. 

Tuesday 5:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. 

Wednesday 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Thursday 5:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Saturday 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Sunday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.


Several outpatient services re-open at Mercy Medical Center

June 20, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, announces the re-opening of several key outpatient services following their closure due to flooding last week.  Mercy Women's Center, Neurodiagnostics, Pain Management and LifeBack services resumed today.

The hospital anticipates it will re-introduce Endoscopy and Outpatient Surgery services early next week.  The Hall Radiation Center was first to re-open, on Monday, June 16.

Mercy remains focused on re-opening the entire hospital, including overnight patient stays, by the end of June.  Disaster recovery teams are cleaning and renovating areas on the south side of the hospital that were directly impacted by flood waters.  And departments that received flood damage, such as Radiology and the Laboratory, are being temporarily relocated on-site.

Mercy would like to remind patients that the Emergency Department remains closed until necessary flood repairs are made.  The St. Luke's Emergency Department is open for emergency care.  For non-emergencies, convenient, walk-in care remains available at Mercy's two urgent care clinics, MercyCare North, 5264 Council St. NE and MercyCare South, 2815 Edgewood Rd. SE.  Tetanus vaccinations are also available at those locations.  The two urgent care clinics have given more than 5,000 of the shots since Friday, June 13.


Archbishop makes stop at Mercy to lend support during flood recovery

June 19, 2008

Cedar Rapids-The Archbishop of the Dubuque Diocese, Jerome Hanus, OSB, took a tour of Mercy Medical Center Thursday morning in the wake of last week's damaging floods.  He expressed concern for the Mercy staff at this difficult time and thanked employees in the hallways for their hard work this past week.  Hanus said he was impressed with the recovery efforts he witnessed at Mercy.  Following his hospital visit, the Archbishop was scheduled to visit several local Catholic parishes that were damaged by flooding.  

Additional Recovery Efforts

  • The Mercy staff has developed a rigorous check list as it looks to bring additional outpatient services on-line in the coming week.  Departments scheduled to begin services next are Pain Management, Neurodiagnostics, The Birthplace, Outpatient Surgery, Mercy's Women's Center and Endoscopy.  Mobile support services such as the Cath Lab, CT and MRI will be on site.

"The pace of our reintroduction of services will match our confidence that we are fully able and ready to provide the quality care we are known for, and that patients and families expect, when they come through our doors," says Tim Charles, Mercy's President and CEO.

  • After identifying those employees directly impacted by flooding, Mercy today implemented the initial phase of its employee assistance program.  One of the initiatives includes providing $750 gift cards through the Mercy Foundation to 133 Mercy employees.  Additional employees and volunteers coping with flood losses continue to be identified.  The next phase of employee assistance efforts will align staff members in need with goods and services donated by their co-workers.  Mercy employees are also able to donate paid leave to those who need it.


Recovery continues as Mercy reaches out to staff members affected by flooding

June 18, 2009

Cedar Rapids-Mercy Medical Center has determined that 133 of its employees have been directly affected by the flood waters that damaged many homes and businesses in the community this past week.  In response to the immediate and critical needs of those employees, Mercy has established the Employee Relief Fund through the Mercy Foundation.  As part of the first phase of response, Mercy will provide those 133 employees with $750 in gift cards, beginning Thursday.  Donations can be sent to Mercy Foundation, 701 10th St. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA, 52403, with checks made out to Mercy Foundation.  More information on giving is available at   Mercy employees also have the ability to donate paid leave to their co-workers who need it.  

Additional Recovery Updates

  • A new temporary location has been identified for Mercy's Pharmacy, which was previously located on the basement level of the hospital and sustained flood-related damage.  The Mercy Pharmacy will relocate to the north side of the hospital near the Hall Radiation Center.  A permanent location within the facility will be identified in the coming days.
  • Mercy's Radiology Department will operate on a mobile basis as the hospital is undergoing repairs and renovations.  Mobile CT, Cath Lab and MRI services will be located on the north side of the Mercy campus, while the mobile PET scanner will operate from the Mercy Health Plaza.
  • The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals was on site Wednesday as they continue to assess the status of Mercy services and the hospital's readiness to re-open.
  • Mercy's urgent care clinics, MercyCare North, 5264 Council St. NE, and MercyCare South, 2815 Edgewood Rd. SW, continue to offer convenient, walk-in medical care.  Free tetanus vaccinations are also available in those locations, where more than 5,000 people have already received the shots since Friday.
  • Of the 176 Mercy patients who were evacuated Friday morning, 31 remain hospitalized at outlying health care facilities.  Mercy continues to monitor the status of those patients in their new location as well as following their return home. 


Recovery process moves forward at Mercy Medical Center

Cedar Rapids-Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, continues its work to recover from the floods of this past week.  An industrial hygienist today inspected the building's air handling systems and has determined there are no air quality concerns within the facility, even in areas most directly impacted by flood waters.  That assessment is a major step forward in the hospital's efforts to be fully functional once again.

As Mercy continues to work cooperatively with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, additional outpatient services will be added in the coming days.

All MercyCare clinics remain open and fully staffed to provide immediate, walk-in care.  Those listings can be found in the yellow pages of your phone book.  Both urgent care centers, MercyCare North, 5264 Council St. NE and MercyCare South, 2815 Edgewood Rd. SW, remain open for immediate patient care needs as well and continue to offer free tetanus vaccinations.


Air Quality Concerns

June 17, 2008

Cedar Rapids-One employee in the Information Technology Department at Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE,   displayed symptoms characteristic with carbon monoxide exposure at approximately 10:30 a.m.  That employee, along with fifteen others within the department who were evaluated as a precautionary measure, began initial treatment at Mercy. They were then taken to St. Luke's Hospital for further evaluation and to complete treatment for release.

Mercy has determined the carbon monoxide fumes came from outside the building where generators were powering large dehumidifiers.  Those fumes were brought into an isolated area of the building through the hospital's air intake system.  The source of those fumes was immediately identified and the air intake to that department was turned off.  In addition, the fuel-powered equipment creating the fumes was moved farther from the building.

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department did an immediate test of the air quality within the facility and determined all areas of the hospital to be safe, including the Information Technology Department.  Their carbon monoxide monitors showed a zero rating throughout the facility.

Mercy employees were made aware of the situation and assured that air quality within the facility is safe.

Mercy is in the process of recovering and re-opening after the massive flooding that affected the community this past week.   Limited services have been restored and Mercy expects to be fully operational by the end of the month. 


Mercy   Medical   Center welcomes patients back to Hall Radiation Center  

June 16, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Iowa Gov. Chet Culver held a news conference at Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, at 6 p.m. today as Mercy celebrated a milestone in its recovery process-the opening of Hall Radiation Center on the north side of the Mercy facility.  That portion of the building was untouched by the flood waters that affected other areas of the hospital. 

"It's a wonderful feeling to see patients coming through the doors again," says Tim Charles, president and CEO at Mercy. "Hall Radiation Center was a priority for us because radiation oncology services are not offered elsewhere in the community.  Meanwhile, our staff is working diligently to phase in other programs and services and assure our patients that they'll be returning to a safe, reliable and secure environment."

Mercy officials are organized to bring back hospital programs and services in phases over the next two weeks, starting with outpatient areas such as Pain Management, Endoscopy, Outpatient Surgery and the Birthplace.   Mercy is working in close consultation with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as the process moves forward.  The hospital looks to be fully operational by June 29. 

Mercy employees continue to work their regular shifts as they assist in the reopening process.   Professional disaster teams that arrived at Mercy on Sunday continue their tasks of cleaning up flood-affected areas in the hospital's basement and the Lundy Pavilion.   

Power was fully restored to the facility Sunday evening.


Recovery process underway at Mercy   Medical   Center

June 15, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Now that flood waters have receded and the hospital has been stabilized, the disaster recovery process is underway at Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE.  Mercy employees, who began reporting back to work for their regular shifts on Saturday afternoon, have been reassigned to support this next phase of cleaning up the flood damage.

"We've set an ambitious goal of being fully operational in two weeks," says Tim Charles, president and CEO at Mercy.  "There's tremendous passion being demonstrated by our employees and volunteers and we're taking advantage of that energy to get our facility ready for patients again by the end of the month."

In addition to utilizing its own work force, Mercy has contracted with a professional disaster recovery team.  Those workers are assigned the continuing tasks of pulling up carpet, removing wall coverings, and disposing of the  remaining sand bags that line the perimeter of the facility.

While electricity has been restored to the building, Mercy is bringing power back on-line in phases as electrical panels in the basement are dried out. 

In addition to the focus on recovery within the facility, Mercy is actively deploying other staff members out into the community to provide medical assistance, counseling and pastoral care to local flood victims.  Nurses are also assisting at St. Luke's Hospital where some Mercy patients were sent during the evacuation early Friday morning.

Charles says, "We feel strongly about assisting our community whenever and wherever we can even as we work through our own recovery process."  The community has been so generous and supportive of our efforts here to save this beloved facility and we want the opportunity to give back in this time of need."

Mercy has also established a support system for its own staff, some of who have homes that were damaged or destroyed these past few days.


Recovery Process

June 14, 2008

Cedar Rapids-The flood waters are receding at Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, and the recovery process is underway.  Mercy employees began reporting back to their regularly scheduled work shifts at 3 p.m. Saturday.  They are being asked to come to work dressed for physical labor as the hospital begins cleaning and preparing to reopen as soon as possible.

Alliant has restored electrical capabilities to the building.  Once internal electrical systems are adequately dried and deemed safe, generators will be turned off and normal power will resume.

"Mercy is fully committed to moving forward in the interest of serving our patients as we have for more than 100 years," says Tim Charles, Mercy's president and CEO.  "The spirit of recovery is evident in our employees and in the many volunteers who have already stepped forward to assist us.  Our goal is not only to get back to normal, but to use the incredible momentum we have to come back better than ever."

Charles says Mercy will re-open its services gradually as the recovery process moves forward and he hopes to have the hospital fully operational in about two weeks.


Evacuation Status

June 13, 2008

Cedar Rapids-The patient evacuation that commenced at Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE,  at approximately 1:00 a.m. Friday, June 13, was successfully completed by 8:00 a.m.

All 176 patients were safely transported to hospitals and/or nursing homes throughout the region. In many cases, family members accompanied their loved ones who were part of the evacuation process. A help line has been established for concerned family and friends.  Questions may be directed to Mercy's Pastoral Care Department at 319-398-6106. 

Non-essential Mercy employees were sent home for the day as Mercy administrators began making plans for the recovery process that lies ahead.

Tim Charles, President and CEO of Mercy, met with employees briefly on Friday to discuss plans to move forward once flood waters begin to recede. "We're committed to reopening Mercy services as soon as possible," says Charles. "It's been extremely gratifying to see such an outpouring of support from our community. Our commitment to our patients is first and foremost as we enter the next phase of this event."

Employees scheduled to work on Sat., June 14, should not report to work unless directed to do so by their supervisor.

Further information about employee work schedules will be distributed later in the day on Saturday. For additional employee info, continue to visit


Mercy initiates evacuation of  patients due to rising floodwaters

June 13, 2008

Cedar Rapids-Due to the rising flood waters in downtown Cedar Rapids and the uncertainty associated with the eventual crest, Mercy Medical Center, 701 10th St. SE, has initiated an evacuation order to take effect immediately.

From the onset of this historic disaster, Mercy's Incident Command Center has been in full operation dealing with crisis preparations and considering all potential scenarios.  Since going on emergency backup power at approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Mercy has been in close contact with state and local officials and has determined  this to be a necessary course of action to ensure the health and well-being of patients.

"Our hope was to continue to operate and serve our patients as we always have, " says Tim Charles, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center.  "Unfortunately, this has become a disaster of unpredictable and potentially catastrophic proportions.  As a result, we feel this action is necessary."

Currently, Mercy's 176 patients, including those residing at Hallmar, the nursing home facility located within the hospital, are being evacuated and diverted to other hospitals in the region as directed by the State.  Critical patients are being transferred first by ambulance, followed by non-critical patients.  The evacuation is being coordinated by Mercy Medical Center, Gov. Chet Culver's office, Linn County Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Operations Center with assistance from the National Guard.

A help line has been established for concerned family and friends.  Questions may be directed to Mercy's Pastoral Care Department at 319-398-6106.  Mercy employees scheduled to work should contact their immediate supervisor for information.

More information on the evacuation can be found on Mercy's web site at

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