TUCSON, Ariz. — Banner Health, a Phoenix-based health company, is currently planning an expansion to Tucson’s only academic medical center. It would include an 11-story tower as well as a large outpatient clinic.
Officials have been in Tucson the past six months holding meetings with community members and neighboring buildings to discuss the expansion and renovation project. They have told the community to expect approximately three years of construction for the new tower.
The 700,000-square-foot building is expected to cost $500 million and will improve hospital conditions. Kathy Bollinger, president of Banner-University Medicine Division told Tuscon.com. “We are only adding seven or eight more beds to the hospital. The purpose is a better hospital, not a bigger one.”
The modest expansion will bring the hospital’s total capacity to 489 beds with the capability to add another 96 if needed. After the previous ownership was not able to update the hospital, Banner said she hopes to bring the hospital back up to date.
The new facility, which is set to open in late 2018, will include a new entrance on the north side of the tower. Construction will include tearing down nine existing buildings on the north end of the hospital campus. If the city of Tucson approves their plans, construction will begin this coming year.
Banner Health is also planning an $80 million, 200,000-square-foot outpatient clinic. The expansion is in anticipation of a trend toward more outpatient health care with only the very sick being admitted to the hospital. This will also include an outpatient surgery center.
Although the nearby neighborhood is concerned about the expansion and the traffic it will bring, Banner promised to build a green buffer and to not expand any more on the north side of the hospital after the proposed north side entrance. They will also expand the road to five lanes instead of three to ease the amount of traffic.
Banner bought land privately owned by the University of Arizona for $60 million, and because the land has been privately owned, Banner needs to get approval from the city to build. Officials hope to go to the Tucson City Council in late November or early December and plan to have another community meeting in September.