Prairie Energy and Corn Belt Power partner to help rural hospital handle record births

As more and more rural health care systems close down, one north central Iowa hospital is experiencing an unprecedented baby boom—and local  electric cooperatives have stepped in to help finance a much-needed maternity center expansion.


Prairie Energy Cooperative in Clarion and power supplier Corn Belt Power Cooperative in Humboldt recently passed through $2.36 million in federal loans to help Iowa Specialty Hospital boost services for Labor, Delivery, Recovery and Postpartum (LDRP) care. Through the REDL&G program, Corn Belt Power sponsored a pass through loan for $1,000,000. Corn Belt Power also sponsored a grant for $300,000 with a $60,000 match from Corn Belt Power to loan a total of $1,360,000 to the hospital for the renovation of its existing footprint to make room for three new LDRP rooms. Prairie Energy also sponsored a loan of $1,000,000 toward this project.


 The loans and grant come as a record number of births strain an already-busy hospital system, where five of 25 beds are dedicated for labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum care. In 2021, doctors delivered a record 568 babies, compared to 485 in 2020. And the hospital is projecting 600 births this year.


 “We consistently fill these rooms and overflow into medical and surgery rooms daily,” said Jenn Mewes, Iowa Specialty Hospital’s OB Leader, adding that doctors and nurses have been paying extra attention to “bed management” to keep pace with deliveries.


Throughout the state, 10 labor and delivery units closed in the past three years.


 “As birthing facilities continue to decrease, patients are more likely to have to drive for this care,” said Mewes, noting that in some cases, expectant families travel as far as 100 miles roundtrip.


The expansion, estimated right now at $5.5 million, will result in three added LDRP rooms and additional specialty clinic space. It’s all part of improving the lives of members, said Corn Belt Power Cooperative’s Brittany Dickey.


 “Our members and staff use this hospital and it’s part of our community,” said Dickey, vice president of business development at the G&T.