Positive reactions ran rampant Saturday during an open house at Gilbert’s new Banner Gateway Hospital.
Thousands of Valley residents got their first glimpse of the hospital near Higley Road and U.S. 60, where Banner staff gave guided hourlong tours and passed out free food and other giveaways.
“It’s innovative, new, fresh, interesting and exciting,” said Fred Thompson, 51, of Mesa.
The hospital boasts 176 single-unit rooms along with a promise that most patients will see a physician within 30 minutes, according to tour guides.
“I really didn’t think there was going to be as many people as there are, but it is a good thing,” said Crystal Zubiria, a Banner volunteer and a junior at Gilbert’s Highland High School.
Banner spokeswoman Krista Paske said event planners hoped to draw a crowd of 5,000 to 7,000 curious residents, to the event that also included food.
“It’s 11 a.m. and we have already fed 1,500 people,” Paske said. “So that is a great start.”
Banner Gateway, which will open Sept. 18, will separate inpatients and outpatients in different buildings, which hospital staff said will help with patient response times. A meditation garden, room service and new technology in every room will also help patients heal faster.
After a tour of the facility, many visitors were impressed by the attention to detail.
“I like the idea of the foldout couches in the rooms,” Apache Junction resident Joyce Frenette said. “The only thing it lacks is a place for the puppy dogs to stay.”
David Wood, 60, of Gilbert said the hospital will bring credibility to his growing town.
“Anything like this is an improvement to a town,” he said.
The emergency unit of the hospital contains 37 private beds with a separate entrance that avoids the waiting lobby altogether.
The pediatrics area contains a creative flair that rivals a dream world for children. Every wall is painted to resemble an outdoor motif, complete with bumble bees, teddy bears and grassy plains.
While the hospital got glowing reviews, the event itself drew some criticism.
“It’s poorly organized,” Gold Canyon resident Danielle Bailey said. “The wait for everything is long.”