Young families have flooded the East Valley and Banner Health has responded.
The Phoenix-based hospital network announced plans Saturday to expand Banner Children’s Hospital in Banner Desert Medical Center in west Mesa.
The $230 million project will include a six-story children’s hospital tower and add nearly 100 beds as early as 2008.
Approval from the board of directors comes three months after Banner Health agreed to a $75 million expansion of the Banner Desert campus at Dobson Road and U.S. 60 that will add emergency department beds, operating rooms and a 1,200-space parking garage.
Need for the expansion is clear.
U.S. Census Bureau projections show that between April 2000 and July 2003, Arizona had the highest growth rate in the nation of children under 5 and the second highest growth rate of children 5 to 17. Much of this growth came in the East Valley, and data gathered by Banner Health suggests the youth movement will only accelerate.
The company estimates that 350,000 children 14 and under live in the East Valley now, but the number will jump to about 400,000 by 2009.
"That’s incredible," said Rhonda Anderson, Banner Children’s Hospital chief operating officer. "Especially because people that don’t live in Arizona think it’s all for old people."
The new tower will consolidate and expand Banner Children’s Hospital, which has a separate entrance but is part of the adult hospital. The plan will increase the number of beds for children from 128 to 220 to serve surgery patients and those with cancer, chronic illnesses or in need of neonatal care.
The project includes expanding the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Emergency Department and outpatient services.
"The board is very excited about this project," Banner Health president and CEO Peter Fine said. "We see ourselves as being part of the fabric of the community and have the responsibility to assess the needs of the growing population and determine how we can develop and provide access to health care."
Banner Children’s Hospital is the East Valley’s only one and has been recognized by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions for three years, Anderson said, while offering complex pediatric care for the past seven years.
Even with the expansion, it will have less beds than Phoenix Children’s Hospital at Thomas Road and state Route 51. The privately-run Phoenix hospital has 285 beds, with plans to expand to 301 beds, spokeswoman Jane Walton said.
Banner Desert’s new tower will provide additional space for adult services, including 70 new beds in the existing hospital. Operating rooms will increase from 19 to 24, and the Emergency Department will expand from 54 to 82 beds.
Today, Banner Desert has 611 beds and is the state leader in infant deliveries, with about 8,800 expected this year, Anderson said.
Fine said the company is having continuous discussions regarding adding a level one trauma center at Banner Desert, which would be the first in the East Valley. A final decision has not been made.
Currently, the closest trauma center for severely injured East Valley patients is Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn or Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.
Banner Health has announced plans to build the new 165-bed Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert at Higley Road and U.S. 60, which Fine said is expected to open in late 2007. The company is adding a new 123-bed patient tower at Banner Baywood Medical Center in east Mesa near Power Road and Main Street that’s expected to be completed late next year and has purchased 80 acres in Pinal County for a new hospital.
Banner Health has announced that its services at Banner Mesa Medical Center near Country Club Drive and Brown Road in northwest Mesa will move to the new Gilbert hospital in late 2007. Fine said a new use has not been determined for the Banner Mesa building.
The Banner Desert expansion project keeps the positive momentum going for the Fiesta Mall area of west Mesa, once perceived as being in decline. The Fiesta Towers, a proposed four-building highrise condominium project planned for Grove Avenue, southeast of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue, was announced in November by its Chicago-based developers. Westcor has purchased Fiesta Mall and plans to release a renovation strategy sometime next year. The Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa hotel at U.S. 60 and Alma School also is being renovated. And Mesa Community College, as with Banner Desert, is planning an expansion of its campus on Dobson and U.S. 60.
"I think it’s great Banner Health is investing in west Mesa, and expanding a children’s hospital is fantastic for the East Valley," said Dave Richins, executive director of the nonprofit West Mesa Community Development Corp.