A little over three years ago, the voters of Maricopa County overwhelmingly passed Proposition 480 to support Maricopa Integrated Health System in their efforts to provide outstanding trauma services, operate the Arizona Burn Center, expand help for the mentally ill, and continue their teaching mission to train our next generation of doctors and nurses. At the time, the leaders of the system were very clear that they recognized the trust that has been placed in them by the taxpayers and pledged to be fiscally responsible with this opportunity.
Since that time, the MIHS Board and their leadership staff have kept their promise – finding ways to do more with less while serving the critical mission providing care to those in need and serving as the only public teaching hospital. Steve Purves, the President and CEO of the system, was hired by the Elected Board in the fall of 2013. Since then, Purves has added Kris Gaw as Chief Operating Officer and Richard Mutarelli as Chief Financial Officer. The new team is working with the elected Board of Directors including Chairman Susan Gerard to collectively spearhead the financial turnaround of the system implementing costs savings, launching employee initiatives, renegotiating contracts, and exploring innovative partnerships. Together, they have also introduced their Care Reimagined initiative to ensure all members of our community have access to “exceptional care, without exception, every patient, every time.”
There is no better example of the nexus of these two goals – protecting the taxpayers and improving community health – than MIHS’s announcement to purchase and reopen Maryvale Hospital. The hospital in west Phoenix, which was closed late last year, will receive new life and a renovation as an emergency department and behavioral health hospital.
First and foremost, this move will serve a critical need in an underserved community. More than 40,000 people would visit Maryvale Hospital’s emergency department each year before it closed its doors. The great news is that now, not only will the residents of Maryvale 24-hour access to emergency care, but they will also be connected to MIHS’s renowned comprehensive medical, surgical, and ambulatory services.
In addition to serving a key local need in Maryvale, it also serves a major regional need for expanded behavioral health. Services for the seriously mentally ill are important for our community and need to be expanded to ensure accessible and effective mental health and substance abuse services. Not only will this move add more than 200 much needed behavioral health beds, but it also creates a boarder network that will better serve mental health needs across the region (particularly in the West Valley).
However, as much as this is a win for the people of Maryvale and the West Valley, this is also a huge victory for the taxpayers. The bond program had originally called for a brand new behavioral health hospital on MIHS’s existing campus. Instead of just moving ahead, the board and their leadership team have found a more strategic solution.
There is no doubt that spending $60.1 million to purchase and renovate an existing facility is far less costly than what a new facility would cost. It is an innovative and fiscally conservative approach to addressing critical behavioral health needs and ER services while serving a critical area of our community.
These moves should serve to boost community confidence in the elected Board and win praise for the leadership team who is navigating the very choppy public policy waters of public health care in the United States. Kudos!