Brad Haws, MBA, chief executive officer of the clinical enterprise and associate vice president of University of Iowa Health Care, knows that bringing a hospital into a larger system is complex, even when all goes as expected. And while the normal timeline to integrate another hospital into a system usually takes several years, much progress has been made so far at UI Health Care’s downtown campus in just months.   

Brad Haws
Brad Haws, MBA, CEO of the clinical enterprise and associate vice president of UI Health Care

We asked for an update on how the transition is going and any other relevant updates: 

What can you tell us about activity on the downtown campus and ongoing efforts to operate as one system? 

There are two things that are top of mind for me: first, the announcement that we have hired Jennifer Miller as the permanent chief administrative officer for the downtown campus. I’m excited for her to get started in the role on July 8 as she’s been involved in the transition of the downtown campus since the beginning and understands how a ‘spirit of collaboration’ is instrumental for success. Her unique expertise, combined with her commitment to patient care and innovation, will be a major asset as we continue to optimize our campuses for the right care, at the right location, with the right providers. Jennifer will report to and work closely with Jody Reyes, who will soon start as chief operating officer of the clinical enterprise of UI Health Care. We also have started a search for Jennifer’s successor to facilitate a smooth transition for the many teams she currently leads in her role as head of support services.  

The other thing that comes to mind is the Epic launch. As we were planning for the downtown campus transition, Epic very quickly rose to the top of the prioritization list, as it is key to optimize operations and direct patients to receive care where it makes the most sense. It is remarkable that our teams met the May deadline, and, for the most part, the launch took place without significant issues. I’d like to once again thank everyone who played a part in this remarkable feat—it often takes health systems a year or more to implement Epic and our teams did it in just a few short months. The all-hands-on-deck approach and singular vision contributed to a successful rollout, and I think it demonstrates the spirit of UI Health Care—how we rally around a common goal for the greater good. 

From a planning perspective, what’s the focus now? 

Now that Epic has been launched, it gives us the opportunity to truly begin looking for ways to maximize capacity across both the university campus and downtown campus. A number of services and programs have been identified as areas to be evaluated for relocation to the downtown campus. These are services and programs that can be initially executed quickly, based on needs, capacity, and capability. 

It is important to note that no final decisions have been made about any of these services or programs—they are simply being evaluated, and Vice President Jamieson and I want to share this transparently. Operational leads have begun investigating feasibility and may call upon staff and providers at both campuses to provide more information and insight to aid in the decisions. 

For example, low risk obstetrics/midwifery is one service line where we have already had some success transferring patients to the downtown campus from university campus, and we are evaluating expanding and formalizing the downtown campus role in those circumstances. Family medicine, gastrointestinal endoscopy, operating room utilization, heart and vascular services, and sleep disorders are also on the evaluation list for where we might make more moves to the downtown campus.  

What changes will be visible first?  

We completed a facilities assessment earlier in the year, and there are several repairs and enhancements underway or planned over the coming months as part of our commitment to invest at least $25 million in facility upgrades. For instance, we just advertised for bid a million-dollar-plus project as part of the first phase to replace the roof at the downtown campus. This foundational work must come first before we can invest in other areas, such as upgrading operating rooms. And this is why the facilities assessments and feasibility planning upfront is so important.      

Where have you seen the biggest changes so far? 

There are three questions that Vice President Jamieson and I come back to when thinking about the transformative process underway for UI Health Care’s downtown campus. Are we working to preserve care and a spirit of hospitality for patients? Are we evolving our mindsets for the right reasons? Are we focused on the right things? And we think the answers so far over the last five months are yes, yes, and yes. Patients love that we’ve preserved local access to health care. Employees appreciate that we’ve preserved jobs in eastern Iowa. Community providers are glad that they can continue to practice downtown under an open medical staff model. These are things that have driven the biggest changes on the downtown campus so far, and as we work toward a more integrated model of care, things will continue to evolve, including suppliers, equipment, tools to assess patients, and resource allocation models.  

We’re also seeing changes that are visible across the entire organization. For example, as of last week, open practice providers are now listed on in the find-a-provider database. Previously, you would have only found providers employed by UI Health Care. This change shows UI Health Care’s commitment to an open medical staff model at the downtown campus.  

What can you share about the long-term strategy for the downtown campus? 

Many great ideas for downtown clinical services have been shared so far. When the long-term facilities master plan was created, downtown campus was not a consideration. As Vice President Jamieson and I look ahead, we know it will be an overarching part of our strategy to meet growing community demand for services and increase patient access for Iowans. We want to do things right, and getting it right takes time.  

Still, as we work on the longer-term planning, we recognize the importance of making faster incremental changes based on needs. That’s what you’ve seen so far.  

A specific example of this is UI Health Care Sleep Solutions. With a lease ending soon in Coralville, it makes sense to relocate that retail space to the Medical Office Building on Jefferson Street in Iowa City on our downtown campus. 

Overall, we’re seeing progress every week, and I appreciate all the work to make the downtown campus transition successful, both in the short term and over the long term.  

Watch for a Q&A with Denise Jamieson, MD, MPH, vice president for medical affairs and the Tyrone D. Artz Dean of the Carver College of Medicine, next month as UI Health Care on downtown campus reaches the six-month mark.