$500 million by 2019: Find out what projects are in the works at the Banner University Medical Center

Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat

The construction sight of the new, nine-story Diamond Children's Medical Center patient building. The site is just one of many ongoing projects at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. 

Some things at Banner – University Medical Center are getting facelifts, and it’s not the patients.

Banner Health, the company that recently merged with University Medical Center, is investing $500 million in the creation of two new buildings near Tucson’s only academic hospital.

One building, which has been under construction since February, is a $400 million, nine-story tower that will replace the main part of the hospital after its completion. The tower, slated to open in 2019, will offer surgeon’s the luxury of large operating rooms and private rooms for patients.

All hospital rooms in the old part of the main hospital currently have two beds separated only by thin curtains. Patients will no longer be disturbed by the comings and goings of nurses and doctors visiting a neighboring patient. Gone too are the days of eavesdropping on fellow patients.Private rooms greatly increase patient satisfaction, according to Katie Riley, Banner’s director of communications. For a hospital that receives federal funds based on patient satisfaction, there is good reason for Banner to do away with double bedrooms.

The nine-story tower is going up west of the main hospital and Diamond Children’s Medical Center on what was once the UA’s polo field. Construction workers are currently working to create a level lot for the tower. They are also working on a separate space to place water tanks that will capture university storm water, according to Stephen Brigham, project executive at Banner.

Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat

Architect Miguel Camacho works on plans for a new building on Thursday, April 28. Two new buildings are being constructed near the existing Banner - University Medical Center.Thursday, April 28.

Storm drainage has been a problem for the medical center in the past, so much so that workers have dubbed the stream of rainwater that occasionally runs through campus the “River Warren.” The new tanks will divert rainwater to a basin, effectively ending the scourge of the “River Warren.”

Construction has also begun on a three-story outpatient center that will host physicians’ offices, medical imaging and oncology services, as well as clinics for cardiology, pulmonary, neurosurgery, rheumatology, geriatrics, otolaryngology, general surgery and allergy services, among others, according to Riley.

Estimated to cost $100 million, the center is being built at the corner of Allen Road and North Campbell Avenue, adjacent to the UA Cancer Center’s North campus. The relocation of physicians’ offices and operations that are currently housed in the old part of the center’s main hospital is a necessary step before the nine-story tower can be opened, according to Riley.

“This will take a lot of traffic off the main hospital campus and we expect outpatients will find this a much more pleasant experience than coming to the hospital to see their physician,” Riley said.

Relocating oncology services directly next to the Cancer Center will be an added convenience. The outpatient center is scheduled to open sometime in 2018, according to Riley.

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