In June of 1992, the Board terminated the administration and support services contract with St. Luke’s and appointed Michael Riege to the position of CEO of Virginia Gay Hospital. The reason for this was to end the split allegiance a St. Lukes’s employee would have and to ensure that the new administrator would be fully committed to the success of Virginia Gay Hospital & Clinics.
When Mr. Riege assumed the leadership of the hospital the prognosis for the facility was anything but positive. The hospital was drowning in red ink, losing more than $2.5 million dollars over the previous ten years. The Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation, which had been established to support the mission of the Hospital, had been drained of all of its assets just to keep the doors open. The decision was made to become independent of any ties to other facilities and mount a final attempt to make
Virginia Gay a viable health care institution. Much like Nettie Burk back in 1932, our current Administrator, Mike Riege, has managed through times good and bad, and has not only kept the hospital open, but helped it thrive.
An aggressive, progressive plan for success was put in place. In June of 1994 the VGH Health Care Foundation launched the “Investment in our Future” fundraising campaign. $1.2 million dollars was raised in six months. The money was used to expand and completely remodel the Annex (Nursing and Rehab) and funded the replacement of the hospital’s boilers and chillers. Services added at that time included mobile mammography, ultrasound, CT scanner, echocardiology, vascular Doppler, EKG, bone density analysis, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, and kidney dialysis. Surgical services included general surgery, laproscopic surgery, orthopedic surgery, ear, nose, and throat surgery, foot surgery, and endoscopy. The hospital brought 12 specialty clinics to Vinton monthly which were staffed by over 50 physicians from Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and the University of Iowa. Hospital Board members were Francis Beggs, Katherine Ervin, Dr. S. L. Anthony, Warren Gulick, Dan O’ Brien, John Ketchen, Dr. Joe Monahan, Lynn Fraker and Mayor John Watson. The Foundation Board consisted of Keith Mossman, John Ketchen, Dan O’ Brien, Dr. S. L. Anthony, Bernice Gulick, Dick Kerdus, Dorothy Albert, Phyllis Simnacher, W.G. Lohr, Rita Barron, Jack Milroy, John Yundt and Harold Merchant.
Also in 1994, Virginia Gay Hospital merged with Benton County Public Health to form the Virginia Gay Hospital Home Health Agency. In 1996, the hospital expanded services again and began construction of Cedar View, a retirement community built on the land just north of the hospital. The Cedar View project was completed in 2001 and consists of six buildings, three duplex condominiums and three fourplex units for a total of 18 homes. Cedar View provides all the amenities that independent, retired people find appealing including lawn care, snow removal and proximity to the hospital in case they need its services.
In 1996 Virginia Gay Hospital purchased two family medical practice clinics in Vinton which have since merged into one. In 1997 the Van Horne medical clinic was added, and it was expanded to nearly twice its original size in 1999. In yet another demonstration of community support, the Elwick family and Kvastad Farms donated land for the construction of a clinic in Urbana. On June 20, 2002, the Urbana Family Medical Clinic was dedicated. The fourth clinic to join the Virginia Gay Hospital & Clinics network was opened in Atkins in August of 2012. Open House was held on August 17th and the clinic opened for business on August 20th.
In December of 1999, VGH began a $1.5 million dollar project which added 4000 square feet of floor space to the hospital. The outpatient waiting room and reception area were expanded and another surgery suite was added. The entrance/lobby area was also remodeled into its current configuration. As Mr. Riege told the Cedar Rapids Gazette during this project, “the community has rallied around the hospital, and that’s really the key to our future”.