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Banner breaks ground for Maricopa medical center
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Hundreds of Maricopa residents were in attendance for a project that was “over five years in discussions.” Banner Health held a groundbreaking ceremony on July 23, 2011 for a Maricopa Banner Health Center. The facility, which is due for completion in summer 2012, will initially be 40,000 sq. ft. and include eight permanent physicians with rotating specialists as needed.
Presiding over introductions, Banner CEO Jim Brannon thanked Maricopans for their “patience and enthusiasm.”
Chief Medical Officer Bruce Bethancourt, who will manage medical care at the facility, commented that the center will provide “much-needed health services… and will grow with the community,” a theme that was repeated by all of the Banner speakers.
Banner President for the Arizona East Region Becky Kuhn claimed, “The time is right to bring primary care to Maricopa.” She cited the pediatric, cancer, and cardiac care specialty hospitals that will also be available at other Banner facilities. She applauded the partnership they have had with Maricopa and thanked the City of Maricopa’s “visionary leaders who are committed to making this a viable, healthy community for its citizens.”
Mayor Anthony Smith gave credit to the “tenacious work of Dr. Ioanna Morfessis,” who began the development process and the “patience and professionalism… of Director of Economic Development Danielle Casey.” He remarked that the “turning point was in November 2009 when we moved from ‘if to when,’” with the project.
Maricopa Council Member Marvin Brown summarized the talks and plans with Banner as being like the last scene in the film Casablanca, “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
A dirt-shoveling photo opportunity took place after the short speeches with seven Maricopa children who had been chosen through a random drawing participating. The children, ages five through 12, who also placed cones to show the site plan perimeter, were: Augustine Sosa, Jayden Briones, Tyreke Echols, Adriana Armstrong, Payton Jensen, Tyja Smith, and Amelia Lowman.
How the facility will serve Maricopa
In private discussions with Marilyn Wyant, Director of Health Services for Maricopa Unified School District, Bethancourt was made aware of the high need for care for children with special and diabetic needs. She stated that 17% of the MUSD population has chronic health conditions, 14% have special education needs, and “a high population” has seizures.
Bethancourt stressed their “relationship centered care” and indicated that Wyant’s information would “change the direction he would take” as they hired the physicians for the new facility. Also, he indicated that any information they received about Maricopa’s needs would be included in their planning.
Initially, two pediatricians, two family practitioners, two internists, two OB/GYN physicians, and two nurse practitioners will be part of the staffing. Rotating specialists and telemedical conferences will make it possible for more than the basic medical specialties to be available at the center.
Early and late hours from Monday through Thursday, plus Saturday hours will be offered, since Banner is aware that so many residents are commuting workers. X-rays will be available. However, an emergency care unit is not planned, nor will MRI and CT scans be part of the beginning services.
Bethancourt stated they will “promote physicians living in the community” and participating since it “goes back to relationships.”
Craig Jensen, Banner Site Development Senior Director of Strategy and Planning, who was cited as the “face of Banner,” commented that the initial 40,000 sq. ft. would have a section that can be built out within three months to accommodate additional growth. Ultimately, through a private/public partnership with the City Of Maricopa, the project has already been planned and approved for a total of 80,000 sq. ft.
“We don’t fail at things... we research and plan,” remarked Bethancourt. “We want to grow with the community.”
Also attending the ceremony were: Maricopa Vice Mayor Edward Farrell, City Council Members Julia Gusse and Alan Marchione, State Senator Steve Smith, Ak-Chin Council Member Delia Carlyle, and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
James Gunn, Chaplain for Banner Desert Medical Center and a Maricopa resident, offered an invocation.
Desert Sun Performing Arts provided a jazz dance performance at the beginning of the ceremony.
Shelley Gillespie / CopaNews.com
Banner and the City worked together to bring the new facility to Maricopa.