NEWS

Two years, two new UPH buildings

Behavioral care facilities will extend new residential offerings to recent graduates

The recent opening of University Physicians Hospital’s two new behavioral health care facilities may mean better medical care for Tucson residents and more opportunities for UA medical students.

After nearly two years of construction, University Physicians Hospital opened the doors of the Behavioral Health Pavilion on Aug. 17. Two days before, the Crisis Response Center opened. The $66 million project was funded with taxpayer funds approved via separate bond measures in 2004 and 2006 that was approved by more than 60 percent of Pima County voters.

The new facilities were built to relieve strain on Pima County’s emergency rooms, detention centers and other resources.

“It’s a huge success, a real win-win for the people of Tucson and Southern Arizona,” said Dr. Mazda Shirazi, medical director of the UA’s Emergency Department of Medicine and chief of staff at University Physicians Hospital.

Shirazi said that in just one week, the volume of patients in UPH’s emergency room, which makes up the vast majority of hospital traffic, has increased by 20 percent.With increased patient traffic comes an increased opportunity for recent medical school graduates to gain experience in a professional setting.

University Physicians Hospital is looking to increase its annual intake of medical residents from six to eight over the next two years and eventually plans to get to 10.

Graduates looking to enter the medical field have to complete a residency period of varying length depending on their chosen specialty.

In addition to new residencies, the center plans to create about 150 other new positions.

Dov Brandis is a second-year medical student at the UA College of Medicine and said he is not interested in pursuing his residency at the University Physicians Hospital upon graduating because he wants to practice in a larger metropolitan area, though he can understand why other students would want to.

“Hospitals affiliated with the UA generally have great academic standing in the medical community, a great staff and a good mix of patients,” he said.

The new facilities also provide additional services and shorter wait times that allow University Physicians Hospital to apply for a more prestigious status.

The increased volume of patients and growth of services in fields like surgery can help medical residents explore potential specialty paths.

“For example,” Shirazi said, “for a surgeon it takes five years of residency, and certain quotas for specific surgeries, like appendectomies.”

Within the next three years, Shirazi said 100 more medical residents will graduate from the UA. Shirazi said the new residencies at the Behavioral Health Pavilion and Crisis Response Center will not only help Tucson and Southern Arizona in the short term, but in the long run as well.

“Physicians tend to stay where they were in residency,” Shirazi said.


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