Blessing inks agreement with Michigan medical group for Keokuk Hospital

Letter of Intent with Flint, Michigan's Insight doesn't spell out timeline


KEOKUK – The City of Keokuk announced an agreement in principal with a Michagan-based medical provider to possibly re-open the city’s hospital.

According, to a release  dated Jan. 1 from the city Thursday afternoon, Insight, out of Flint, Mich., has signed a letter of intent to acquire the hospital from Blessing Health Systems.

Keokuk City Administrator Cole O’Donnell said there aren’t a lot of details that can be released yet, but confirmed the agreement.

“All we did was stew for a couple months. Blessing let us know they had this letter of intent, but told us we couldn’t say anything. They just allowed us to release it today, so this comes as very good news,” O’Donnell said.

Keokuk Mayor Kathy Mahoney was unavailable for comment, but is quoted in the release as saying, “When the Keokuk Area Hospital closed, a void was created in the health care services for our citizens. The announcement from Insight means that this void will be closed, and the people of Keokuk can rest a little easier.”

O’Donnell said he couldn’t confirm what level of services would exist at the hospital, but the city was told by Blessing that an Emergency Room would be part of Insight’s plans.

Insight Chief Strategy Officer Atif Bawahab said the medical group was determined to help fill the need for reliable, quality healthcare services in Keokuk.

“Insight is committed to providing world-class expert healthcare to our patients,” Bawahab said. “Our physicians and hospital administrators are driven by an oath to improve the quality of life of residents in the communities we serve.”

Dr. Jawad Shah, founder and CEO of Insight, and a practicing neurosurgeon said the group is committed to the highest level of care and a paramount level of service in re-establishing healthcare services in Keokuk.

Lee County Supervisor Chair Garry Seyb said he was surprised by the news, and welcomes it for the citizens of Keokuk.

“If it comes to pass that at some point we have a hospital and ER in Keokuk that’s good news for the city. But other than the press release, I don’t have a lot of information. I was surprised by the release.”

Lee County has scheduled a special election for March 11 for voters to designate ambulance services as essential services in the county and to assess a .75/$1,000 levy to help offset the costs of running the ambulance. Current budget estimates show a current year shortfall of close to $2 million, The 2023-24 proposed budget has expenses projected at $4.66 million.

Seyb said the announcement doesnt change the county's plans for EMS services across the county.

“This doesn’t change our posture for the ambulance service. An ER in Keokuk would allow us to take on more transfers than we are currently able to handle and still provide emergency services in Keokuk while allowing us to get back on station quicker.” Seyb said.

Supervisor Tom Schulz also said the news was welcomes.

“It’s always good when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

No information about the timeline for potential operations to be up and runniing was eluded to by officials with either the city or Insight.

Attempts to reach Blessing several days ago for comment on the rumored deal went unreturned as of this publishing.

Keokuk, Hospital, Insight, Cole O'Donnell, Lee County, supervisors, news, Iowa, hospital, Emergency room, ambulances, Pen City Current


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