Even though Banner Health has scrapped plans to build a hospital in Gilbert, it still wants to continue a partnership with the Gilbert Unified School District.
The partnership will serve the district’s fifth high school, expected to open for 2007-08 school year near Val Vista Drive and Germann Road.
Banner Health’s Gilbert Medical Center was planned to rise adjacent to the high school and across the street from the planned Catholic Healthcare West’s Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.
Banner and district officials had discussed creating programs to provide students with educational opportunities in the health-care field, and plan to continue the partnership in the absence of the hospital.
"There is no difference in Banner’s involvement with the planning of the school," said Kathy Bollinger, CEO of Banner Baywood Heart Hospital in Mesa and the Banner Gilbert Medical Center project leader.
Bollinger is on a committee study group for the school district that is looking at what type of high school would benefit the community the most.
Brad Barrett, Gilbert school district superintendent, said the absence of Banner’s hospital won’t affect the school.
One of the options under study is making the new high school a magnet facility, which would feature a rigorous curriculum focused on preparing students for careers, with an emphasis in health care.
"If data shows that the community still wants a magnet school, we would go that way," Barrett said. "We are still moving ahead. This will not affect our plans."
He added that even if the school turns out to be a conventional high school, there will still be medical opportunities for the students.
Banner continues to plan on internship opportunities for students.
"The only difference is that the students wouldn’t be able to walk next door to the hospital," Bollinger said.
"If we have to, we will make arrangements for the students to travel either to our East Valley hospitals or even to our downtown hospitals for internship opportunities," he said.