Banner Desert Medical Center opened a new space with 24 beds on July 7 as part of a larger tower expansion project that will be finished in 18 months. The new beds meet the facility’s need for increased medical surgical (med/surg) capacity while the rest of the expansion is under construction. Once the expansion is finished, the area will be re-designated as an antepartum unit.  

“When we looked at the plans, our designer noticed an empty shell space on the third floor,” explains Tracy Lauer, project manager at Cuningham, a national design firm with an office in Phoenix. “We came with the idea to put the antepartum department in the shell space; otherwise, we would’ve needed to build additional square footage.” 

This creative thinking saved Banner $3 million by sidestepping the need to construct an additional 36,000 square feet at the facility. Banner built off the design team’s idea by suggesting that the open floor accommodate the beds during tower’s construction.  

“That design solution was part of our interview and request for proposal (RFP) process, and it turned into a separate little project to help Banner with the shortage of med/surg beds,” Lauer says.  

Part of the design allows for further flexibility if Banner Desert Medical Center decides to change course later on.  

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Tracy Lauer, project manager at Cuningham

“We met with the WIS (woman and infant services) department to talk about the antepartum unit, we had meetings with the med/surg folks to talk about their needs, and we spoke with the pediatrics department to hear what they would need to re-convert this to a pediatric unit if needed. We designed the area with all three user groups in mind,” Lauer comments. “It’s a unique space in that we’re going to open it as med/surg, re-license it as antepartum, and, in the future, it could be used as a pediatric unit.” 

Lauer adds, “Banner had an immediate need for more med/surg beds, and they would’ve had to wait until the tower was complete had they not built out the shell space. It gave them 24 of the 72 med/surg beds they were planning on.” 

The primary objective of the overall expansion was to increase bed capacity on campus, and in doing so, Banner also took the opportunity to improve and relocate its women’s health program. Once completed, the new tower will be dedicated to women’s and children’s care, with new labor and delivery, triage, antepartum and postpartum rooms.