This year is proving to be a momentous one for MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City.

Not only did the medical center, formerly Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, launch its new name and logo as part of a  network-wide rebrand, but it made noticeable progress on its new $10.6 million behavioral health center slated to open Monday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the "Jan Again Center for Hope and Safety" took place Thursday.  

A public dedication ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday to celebrate the project’s completion. An open house and tours will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the behavioral health center, located next to the emergency department.

“It’s going to be really nice when we get it done,” said Dr. Teresa Mock, senior vice president of MercyOne Medical Group North Iowa, last month.

MercyOne announced the 27,200-square-foot expansion in August 2017 during a press conference, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in October with hospital staff, board of trustees and state legislators.

"We are very pleased to be able to increase the number of Behavioral Health Care services we can offer to those struggling with mental illness and substance use in our community," said Rose Brantner, director of behavioral health care at MercyOne.

Due to a lack of resources, MercyOne had to turn away 3,000 behavioral health patients in 2016, Mock told the Globe Gazette after announcing the expansion. They were referred to facilities in Waterloo, Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City that were also strapped for space.

Currently, the medical center is able to accommodate about 20 patients at a time in its behavioral center. The new two-story facility will be able to house closer to 34 behavioral health patients.

The first floor of the expansion houses an intake room, a 12-bed adult unit and the entrance of the building is the Jan Again Resource Center for Hope and Safety.

The resource center, which is funded by a $900,000 donation from the Jan Again Foundation, will provide free access to information on community resources, like how to get help for those struggling with mental illness and general information on the disease.

The Jan Again Foundation was established in 1999 in honor of Jan Smeby, who had depression and took her own life in 1998.

Members of the Smeby family, including Walley Smeby, the husband of the late Jan Smeby for which the center is named, were on hand Thursday for the dedication.

The second floor of the new Behavioral Health Center will house five double-bed rooms, a group therapy room and a classroom that also serves as a dining room in the adolescent unit, as well as 12 private rooms, a group therapy room, a dining room and a large socialization space in the second adult unit.

“One of the issues we have right now with access is having semi-private rooms particularly for adults, so all of the adult rooms are now private, which allows us to utilize every bed by the unit,” Brantner said.

She said the aesthetics in the new behavioral health center — marked by soft pastel colors — are intentionally more calming and less institutional than the current space to assist patients in their healing.

Mock and Brantner said the units were also designed to improve safety for patients and staff.

“Everything is designed not only with safety in mind, but also how we carry out actual programming, like this is designed so we can provide the type of therapies we think are essential,” Brantner said.

Mock said one of the nicest safety features of the behavioral health center is the units are designed with on-stage and off-stage spaces. An off-space location is one in which dietary or housekeeping staff would enter the floor without accessing the unit.

“It’s a safety feature and it really works nicely,” she said.

The units also feature sensory rooms, open-concept nurses’ station and large partially frosted windows.

As part of the project, the previous administration building is being remodeled for outpatient services, where psychologists, counselors and other professionals will be located.

On June 9, patients and staff will transfer to the new behavioral health center.

Brantner said the medical center, which employs more than 2,500 providers and staff, has enough people to staff the new center when it opens.

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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