The health care industry remains a bright spot in Arizona’s dismal economic landscape, with Banner Health shining among the very brightest.
Headquartered in Phoenix, the not-for-profit health system has 12 hospitals in the Valley and is the second-largest employer in Arizona behind Wal-Mart with more than 26,000 full-time employees.
Banner’s Arizona region President Susan Edwards says the state’s growing population has enabled the company to expand and provide high-quality medical services to communities throughout the Valley. Since 2002, Banner has opened two new hospitals, started construction on a third, expanded a number of current facilities and purchased land for future growth.
“Banner has been in a growth mode for quite some time,” Edwards says. “And even though the population growth in Arizona has slowed down, we are committed to completing the projects on the table. We are a strong company and we run our hospitals very effectively. It’s not just about getting bigger and growing. It’s about continually improving how we structure our facilities and providing excellent patient care.”
Edwards maintains she is very optimistic about the future of the health care industry, despite the increasing costs of doing business, lack of health care workers and the government lowering reimbursements to health care providers.
“When the industry is challenged, we have to make major changes and adapt,” she says. “We also have to keep a close eye on operations so we get through the tough times.”
Banner is currently scrutinizing business practices at all levels of its hospitals to see where it can make improvements on the company’s bottom line. Employees working on the front lines were asked to provide feedback on making business practices more efficient, and in twoweeks Banner officials received 412 suggestions. A suggestion that has already been implemented is going to save Banner $100,000 annually, Edwards says.
Edwards, 52, has been president of Banner’s Arizona region since 2002. Prior to Banner, she served as both executive vicepresident and chief operating officer of St. John’s Health System in Detroit, and interim president and chief executive officer of St. John’s Hospital, a 600-plus bed tertiary hospital. Before that, she held health care leadership roles in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
Edwards was born and raised in Sparta, N.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Emory and Henry College, a master’s of health administration degree from Duke University, and a law degree from Wayne State University.