At the confluence of the Mississippi and Rock Rivers between Iowa and Illinois can be found not one city but five, each one an entity onto itself but altogether a formidable population of almost 400,000.
The Quad Cities
Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and three Illinois locations—Moline, East Moline and Rock Island—are collectively known as the Quad Cities, probably for two simple reasons: tradition and euphony. “Quint Cities” came into being for a while, but it was soon abandoned because the words didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Nicknames aside, Joe Taylor, the convention and visitors bureau CEO, summarizes, “We’re one destination that happens to be made up of multiple cities.”
Davenport was founded in 1836 and was the site of the first Mississippi River railroad bridge. Taylor notes: “We have everything a big city can offer but without the hassle of a big city.” That includes big-time employers. John Deere, the renowned producer of heavy agricultural and manufacturing vehicles, is headquartered in Moline but also employs about a thousand workers in Davenport. Alcoa, Inc., employs 2,000 in Riverdale, Iowa, a town surrounded on three sides by Bettendorf. Rock Island is home to the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the U.S.
Genesis Health Group
Jason Hagemann, D.O., who practices family medicine with Genesis Health Group in Davenport, notes, “My patients all work at one place or the other (Deere or Alcoa).” Hagemann himself lives in Bettendorf, although he was raised in Davenport.
Genesis was one of the first community hospitals west of the Mississippi when it was founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Mercy. It now serves 10 area counties in Iowa and Illinois. It’s a “top performer” in endocrinology and diabetic care and also has “the best physical therapy care in the region,” notes media coordinator Craig Cooper. Its cardiology care includes advanced equipment and techniques, and it’s one of only three Iowa hospitals with staff and equipment to provide transcatheter aortic valve replacements for patients who would be endangered by open procedures. And also one of “very few hospitals nationwide” to offer Varian Trilogy image-guided, focused radiation that reduces treatment time and protects surrounding healthy tissue.
For all hospital employees, though, care expands beyond treatment and the building. From management to janitors, employees are praised for their compassion, and a book has been published chronicling many of their good deeds: Noting the 70th wedding anniversary of a dying patient, staff members bought a cake for a special celebration for him and his wife. Staff members gave shoes to a homeless patient, and then established a drive that brought in 206 pairs for others.
Nonprofit health system UnityPoint Health
Another player in the Quad Cities health care scene is UnityPoint Health, the 13th largest nonprofit health system in the country. The system serves 88 communities in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Its Trinity Rock Island campus recently underwent a Heart Center and Emergency Department expansion. The new state-of-the-art Emergency Department features a dedicated trauma room, 22 general treatment stations and more. In 2015, UnityPoint Health-Trinity began offering the CardioMEMS HF heart failure monitoring system—the first in the area to do so.
Hagemann followed a path that would extend around the world before he returned home and joined Genesis for his residency in 2010, becoming a permanent staff member in 2013. He stayed in-state as an undergraduate at Iowa State University in Ames, but then joined the Army National Guard, was trained as a combat medic and deployed to Iraq. He had worked with several DOs in the Army, which inspired him to follow the same career path when he came back home. He applied at the main campus of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania. “I interviewed there—in January,” he says, but learned of a campus in Bradenton, Florida, which he selected for a simple reason. “My wife. She said, ‘I don’t care what you say. We’re going to Florida!’” He now jokes, “All my medical books have sand in them.”
Museums, parks, and schools, oh my!
Still, the call to Davenport as a career location was too strong to resist. “It took us away from the beauty of Florida, but this is a better place to raise kids,” he says. The couple now has a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old. “The schools here are excellent and very family-centered,” he notes. Not to mention “lots of museums and dozens of parks.” The newest, and possibly most spectacular, museum is the 10-million-square-foot Science Center at Davenport’s Putnam Museum. The center opened in 2014 and features 45 hands-on stations for children to explore.
Hagemann is especially happy about the number of bike and walking trails, especially along the two rivers. Especially noteworthy are the Hennepin Canal Parkway linking the rivers and the 62-mile Great River Trail.
But the continuing city highlight is probably what Chamber of Commerce spokesman Jason Gordon considers “the amazing downtown renaissance” in the last five years.
In the last several years, more than 1,500 people have relocated to some nine or 10 blocks in the downtown area. The influx has sparked shopping areas, appealing restaurants and entertainment venues.