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DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A state board has denied an eastern Iowa hospital’s request to buy equipment used in radiation therapy, dealing a blow to plans for a $25 million cancer center.

The State Health Facilities Council denied Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque’s request on Thursday, the Telegraph Herald reported .

Plans for the center won’t be abandoned, said Kay Takes, president and CEO of the medical center. The center can apply for a re-hearing or appeal the decision.

“As one of the major health systems in the community, we are handicapped in that we don’t have the ability to do all of the (cancer) care,” Takes said.

The hospital had submitted a request for a certificate of need program. Such programs aim to reduce or contain health care costs, improve patient access and reduce duplication of services.

UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital argued that it already provides the necessary services in Dubuque at the Wendt Cancer Center.

“There is no community in Iowa of comparable size (to Dubuque) with more than one radiation therapy program,” said David Brandon, Finley’s CEO. “Excess capacity for high-quality, state-of-the-art cancer treatment already exists in Dubuque and approval of a second radiation therapy program would threaten the existence of Finley’s high-quality program.”

Mercy’s planned facility would be a partnership between Mercy and Medical Associates Clinic. Officials had hoped to open the new cancer center in 2019 or 2020, in part to provide all of its cancer services in one location, said Eric Engelman, of Medical Associates Clinic.

“(This project) is about providing all three cancer services — medical oncology, radiation oncology and surgery — in a seamless manner, together under one roof, in a multi-disciplinary fashion,” Engelman said.

A member of the state council, Roger Thomas, said the hospital’s plan wasn’t ready to go yet.

“Based on the numbers we were presented today, there was just too much controversy,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, some day (Mercy) will come back (to the council).”


Information from: Telegraph Herald,