Banner Desert’s balancing act - East Valley Tribune: News

Banner Desert’s balancing act

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Posted: Saturday, May 27, 2006 8:01 am | Updated: 4:21 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Imagine a surgeon striving to repair damaged tissue while making sure surrounding tissue remains unharmed. That’s similar to the delicate task that lies ahead for Banner Desert Medical Center, the massive hospital campus at Dobson Road and U.S. 60 in Mesa.

During the next few years, Banner Desert will undergo a $305 million expansion while making sure that no services are interrupted and that patients and visitors are not inconvenienced in any way. The hospital, which encompasses more than 900,000 square feet, will expand to nearly 1.5 million square feet.

Jay Stallings, Banner Desert’s associate administrator, knows that keeping the hospital running smoothly during the expansion will be a tough task.

“Absolutely it will be challenging,” he said. “Impossible? No.”

Nancy Neff, hospital spokeswoman, said the end result “makes you excited and glad that you’re a part of this, but we have a few growing pains along the way.”

The centerpiece of the expansion project is the new Banner Children’s Hospital, which will increase the pediatric capacity from 128 beds to 220 beds. The children’s hospital, now integrated into the regular hospital, will be housed in a 120-bed tower on the northeast end of the campus.

The project also includes:

• Building a 1,250-space parking garage to improve parking for staff, patients and visitors.

• Increasing the emergency department from 54 beds to 82 beds.

• Constructing 15 operating rooms.

• Expanding the neonatal intensive care unit from 56 beds to 86 beds.

• Expanding the pharmacy, materials management, central plant, support services and kitchen.

Construction already has started on the parking garage on the south end of the campus. It is being built where a surface-level parking lot was located as well as a small building that was demolished.

“If there’s been one single thing that has been a common thread that’s voiced to us, it’s that parking is tough once you come onto the campus, and we know that,” Stallings said. “The parking garage will be completed by early next year.”

In early July, hospital staff will begin parking off-campus while construction fences will be erected around the area where the children’s hospital will be built, he said. The site where the children’s hospital will be located currently contains surface-level parking.

Banner has entered an agreement to use 1,200 parking spaces at the Broadway 101 complex near the northwest corner of Broadway and Dobson roads.

“We’ll have full-time security to our staff for those vehicles, and then we will be transporting them from that location onto the campus,” Stallings said. “During that construction period, whatever surface parking is left will then be used for our patients and visitors. We will have an internal transportation system on campus as well. If you park out farther away from the building . . . we will have on-site transportation that will be able to take you to your entrance or your destination.”

Initially, the hospital’s loading dock will be relocated and underground work will begin on the children’s hospital site, with actual construction to follow pending various permits from the city.

“You can imagine that we have so much in plumbing and electrical and waste systems and piping that is underground, and we need to relocate almost all of that,” Stallings said. “We’ve also identified pathways for each of the construction phases where we are able to direct foot traffic, ambulance traffic and construction traffic, as well as vehicular traffic.”

Banner Desert is targeting late 2008 to early 2009 for completion of all phases of the expansion. As for the future, there will be additional acreage available on the campus for further expansion, and the children’s hospital will accommodate a second tower when needed, he said.

Once the expansion is completed, Banner Desert will be able to treat more children and adults and will be a more convenient campus for everyone, Stallings said.

“We’re not going to be shutting down any portion or any program in the hospital and moving it off campus,” he said. “That’s the reason for the sequencing and the phasing of these different phases of the project.”

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