South Chandler will get its own hospital – the city’s second – and Ahwatukee will be closer to one after Banner Health announced plans to move into the turf long held by Dignity Health.
The announcement came only about two weeks after Dignity announced a massive expansion of the Chandler Regional Medical Center.
Both companies attributed their moves to population growth not only in Chandler but throughout the East Valley, and Banner pointedly aimed its plan partly at serving Ahwatukee.
Both companies’ projects will pour tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. Banner said it’s spending $150 million to build the 120-bed facility; Dignity is spending $194.8 million on its new tower.
Banner will build a four-story, 240,000-square-foot hospital on the southeast corner of Alma School Road and Loop 202 Santan Freeway, next to its Banner Health Center, a full-service doctor’s office that does not offer urgent care but does offer primary care services, rotating specialists and X-ray labs.
Its so-far-unnamed hospital seems aimed at part of Dignity Health’s market, which also runs Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. Banner noted in a release that the facility “will help fulfill the healthcare needs of area residents, including those who reside in Ahwatukee, Chandler and Gilbert.”
Banner also stated: “The Southeast Valley is one of the fastest-growing segments in Maricopa County, with Chandler and Gilbert representing a significant portion of the growth. The growth rate in these communities is outpacing that of the rest of the Phoenix metropolitan area and will require additional health care services.
“In addition to the rapid growth of the overall population, Banner also has more than 80,000 members in its Banner Health Network insurance organization that reside in the Southeast Valley. They participate in value-based health plans that require convenient and affordable care.”
Becky Kuhn, Banner’s chief operating officer, echoed that sentiment: “We want to provide convenient care that is close to home for our patients and their families. The surrounding Southeast Valley is growing fast, and we want to make sure our patients and health plan members have care when and where they need it.”
The hospital will open in fall 2020 – about a year after the South Mountain Freeway will open – and will provide Ahwatukee residents with far quicker access to a hospital than either Dignity Health hospital offers.
It will include an emergency room, imaging and surgery facilities and a maternity ward. “The hospital will have room for expansion as the community needs require more services,” Banner added.
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny hailed Banner’s announcement: “I have seen the preliminary plans for the project and I am very excited to see this new hospital complex built in our community.
“Banner has an excellent record in providing high-level care across the Valley. This location will serve our residents well, while adding valuable new jobs to the workforce,” the mayor added.
Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, owning and operating 28 acute-care hospitals in six states.
The Chandler Regional expansion also is being driven by population growth, particularly what Dignity called “the quickly growing number of patients in the East Valley who need complex, serious treatments.”
The overall population in the area is growing, the number of “aging” residents is increasing and Chandler Regional has increased its “specialization and our abilities to take on more complex patients” within the last few years, Dignity CEO Mark Slyter said.
The expansion will create about 200 new jobs. Banner did not say how many jobs its hospital will generate.
Chandler Regional is planning to break ground later this year on a new campus building project that includes a new, five-story patient-care tower, called Tower D, as well as a new parking structure with more surface parking to fit more than 1,100 vehicles.
Tower D will likely be finished in early 2021 and new hospital inpatient beds will open by then. Renovations also will be made to an existing building to add six more operating rooms.
The upgrades to the existing structure will be complete and ready for patient use in 2022.
Tower D will add 132 more patient beds, bringing the hospital’s total bed count to 429.
Tower D will house 36 more ICU beds for the hospital’s critical care patients. It will also contain 60 telemetry beds mainly for brain or spine-related case and cardiopulmonary patients, who need a higher level of care with constant monitoring.
Those patients might include ones recovering from complex procedures or strokes, neurosurgery or thoracic surgery. Once it is built, Tower D will also have space for 36 more beds in the future, bringing the total to 132 more patient beds.
Chandler Regional opened in 1961 with 40 beds and it has steadily increased over the last nearly 60 years.