Banner Desert Medical Center is making plans for an East Valley trauma center that emergency workers say will help save lives. "We would love to have that," said Mesa fire Capt. John Jayne.
The shorter distance would reduce travel time and add precious minutes for patients to get emergency medical treatment.
Banner Health officials said in order to bring a level one trauma center to the East Valley they first need more room at the Mesa hospital at 1400 S. Dobson Road. They will ask their board of directors for money to expand the medical center later this year.
"We understand the need for a trauma center, but to get there would require increasing capacity of beds for adults and children," said Bill Byron, a Banner Health spokesman.
Bruce Pearson, the hospital’s chief executive officer, included opening a level one trauma center as among the hospital’s key initiatives in a briefing at a Mesa economic development meeting on Wednesday.
He said a growing East Valley needed its own trauma center.
A trauma center requires specialized medical services, which Banner Desert is developing, he said.
"We are very far along in our planning," he said.
Such a facility would be a boon to East Valley emergency workers who fly most trauma victims to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital or Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.
Jayne did not have specific figures for trauma calls, but estimated his department responds to an average of one trauma-related call per day.
"And if you add the rest of the East Valley, you probably get a lot more," he said.
Phoenix-based Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, operating 20 hospitals, four long-term care centers and other services in seven states.
Company officials won’t comment on how large the expansion request is or what it would cost and say that while plans are being developed, nothing has been put before the board of directors.
But this type of expansion typically runs about $1 million per bed in associated construction and infrastructure costs, Byron said.
Level one trauma centers handle severe injuries, such as those suffered in car crashes. There are five trauma centers in the Valley, four in Phoenix and one in Scottsdale.
Byron said the trauma center at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn was considered the East Valley’s trauma center, but booming growth to the south has created a new need.
Banner Health already plans to extend farther into the south East Valley with a medical campus near Johnson Ranch southeast of Queen Creek.
The company purchased 80 acres in late March south of Combs Road on Gantzel Road in Pinal County to develop a campus that will include a hospital and associated services. Officials say they hope to break ground on initial facilities early next year. It will take another 12 to 18 months before medical services would be available.
Banner officials announced plans in January to close its oldest East Valley hospital in Mesa and build a new one in Gilbert in 2007, a move that would avoid massive renovation costs at Banner Mesa Medical Center while capitalizing on growth to the southeast.