Buckeye to get 2 new hospitals virtually side-by-side

Alexandra Hardle
Arizona Republic

Fast-growing Buckeye is Arizona's largest city geographically, sprawling across 640 square miles, but its first two hospitals will open virtually side by side. 

Abrazo Community Health Network and Banner Health are planning hospitals along Interstate 10 near Verrado Way, the former to the southwest and the latter to the northwest.

“We are thrilled to have both Abrazo and Banner part of our city,” said Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn in a statement. “These two new facilities will provide robust health care for our residents and meet the needs of our growing community.”

Abrazo expects to begin construction on the first phase — a 65,000-square-foot medical office building — this year, though it hasn't started yet, said Abrazo spokesperson Keith Jones.

More:Abrazo Health to break ground on Buckeye's first hospital in 2022 near I-10 and Loop 303

Banner spokesperson Becky Armendariz said there currently isn't a set date as to when the company expects to break ground although its hospital is slated to open in 2024.

Services Abrazo hospital will offer

A satellite view of a future Abrazo Health medical campus in Buckeye, Arizona.

Abrazo's hospital will be an acute care facility, although the health care company has not yet announced which specialties the facility is expected to offer. The first phase of construction will be the 65,000-square-foot medical office building, and Jones said a formal groundbreaking ceremony will soon be announced.

The facility will offer ambulatory services and an acute care hospital. The new campus is a natural progression of Abrazo's presence in the West Valley, Jones said — Abrazo West Campus, a Level 1 Trauma and Stroke Center, is located about 10 miles east in Goodyear while Abrazo Buckeye Emergency Center is located on Watson Road off of I-10. 

Details such as the number of beds won't be available until all of the leases are signed, Jones said.

Abrazo will help meet the medical needs of the quickly expanding community, said Jones, with Buckeye being one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The new campus will be a natural progression of Abrazo's relationship with the city, Jones said. 

Abrazo will consider feedback from local health care providers and the community as it moves forward with planning services that will be provided at the new campus, according to the release. 

Breaking Ground: Abrazo Health to break ground on Buckeye's first hospital in 2022 near I-10 and Loop 303

Services Banner hospital will offer

Banner Health's headquarters.

Banner's facility will have 120 beds and offer imaging, surgery, labor and delivery, intensive care and an emergency room. The hospital, which will be four stories and 330,000 square feet, will also have a potential build-out of more than 300 beds as the community grows. 

Banner already has a presence in Buckeye, with Banner Health Center being located on West Market Street. More details on the facility will be available in the coming months. 

Banner wants to do what is in the best interest of the community and insurance network members, Armendariz said in an email.

Banner has been monitoring the market for a number of years with the intention to build a hospital when the time was right, said the spokesperson. Public records show that Banner has owned the land since late 2007.

Abrazo's hospital will not meet the needs of members of Banner's insurance organization, said Armendariz, who also cited the rapid growth of the area as a reason to build the hospital.

Building out medical services in one of the nation's fastest-growing cities

A new Abrazo Health medical campus will be located near the southwest corner of Interstate 10 and Verrado Way.

Both of the hospitals will be located near Verrado, which is one of Buckeye's several master-planned communities.

Michelle Beaver, a Tartesso resident who works in Verrado, said while Buckeye is growing rapidly and needs hospitals, it would make more sense to spread them out. But having two hospitals so close together might not be as unusual as it seems, said Daniel Derksen, University of Arizona Health Services associate vice president for Health Equity, Outreach and Interprofessional Activities.

Having health facilities closer to where people will live is necessary given Buckeye's population boom over the last decade, Derksen said. And while the community might not yet be able to fiscally support two hospitals, the anticipated growth of the area makes it an attractive area to build.

"I'd say it's not unusual in a state like this, where you're seeing that kind of population growth," Derksen said.

Health care companies will build in places where it's convenient for people to drive without getting caught up in traffic. The construction of the hospitals will also provide jobs within the community, whether that be in food service or nursing.

Entities often see themselves as competitors, rather than collaborators, Derksen said, meaning it's unlikely the two will coordinate in terms of which services are offered at each hospital. But the companies listening to which services community members are asking for will help the hospital support the wants and needs of the community, Derksen said.

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Julie Johnson, an executive vice president with Colliers, specializes in commercial real estate in the health care market and has worked throughout Maricopa County. The health care market operates similarly to the retail market in Phoenix, Johnson said, in that it's driven by rooftops and people. Because of the recession over a decade ago, the health care market is just now catching up with all of the homes built in the West Valley, Johnson said.

And the location right along the highway makes it a perfect location for hospitals, Johnson said, because it's easy for both patients and staff members to access the location.

It's important to find a balance between being the first to market without being too far ahead of the curve since population density is necessary to operate a hospital.

Different insurance plans will also mean that many patients may only be able to go to one hospital under their plan. Additionally, hospitals often have specialties, whether that be cardiology or pediatrics, that differentiate them from one another. At the national level, Tenet Healthcare, which owns Abrazo, tends to focus on ambulatory surgery centers and outpatient surgery, said Johnson.

"I think that there are a lot of different ways that they could exist so close to each other and still be very successful," said Johnson.