Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert took a small step Tuesday toward potentially becoming a 500-patient-bed hospital.
The hospital added 36 beds, raising its capacity to 176.
The beds were added ahead of schedule due to the unexpected demand, said hospital spokeswoman Susan Gordon.
What is pushing the increased demand isn't clear.
"We've seen considerable increases ... every month," Gordon said.
During 2008, Banner Gateway, at U.S. 60 and Higley Road, saw 11,570 inpatient admissions, 3,817 births, 5,721 surgeries and 42,265 emergency room visits.
The hospital, which opened in September 2007, will also open its ninth operating room in February, officials said. The 60-acre campus has capacity for two more patient towers and 324 beds.
Gordon said there's no time frame to build the towers.
"I think that the decision to build those additional beds will depend on the population growth and the health care needs in the community," she said.