Following a longstanding family tradition of investing in health care and health sciences education benefiting the Phoenix community, local philanthropist Doris Norton has donated $5 million to Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and Creighton University. This transformational gift will expand much-needed health sciences education in Phoenix, creating a pipeline of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals at a time when the Valley, state and nation are facing an imminent shortage of healthcare professionals.
“I’m delighted to support this expanding partnership between St. Joseph’s and Creighton University,” said Doris Norton. “We’ve always believed St. Joseph’s is the leading hospital in the Valley. Knowing that Creighton mirrors the same commitment to educating outstanding health care professionals makes this the perfect union. We’ve always felt blessed to be able to support St. Joseph’s and the education of those advancing in the health care profession, and I hope others will join us in this effort.”
Norton’s gift designates $3 million to support development of a new Creighton University Health Sciences – Phoenix Campus adjacent to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in midtown Phoenix. Phase one of the project—a 180,000-square-foot building with capacity for more than 800 students—is currently under construction at Park Central Mall and expected to be completed in spring 2021. Norton has also allocated $2 million toward St. Joseph’s endowment scholarships for students entering the nursing field, reflecting a profound commitment to expanding health care education that she has supported during her family’s decades-long relationship with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
“We are on the verge of an exciting new era in health care delivery and education in Phoenix and the greater Southwest,” said Creighton University President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “Creighton University has a long tradition of excellence in health care education – with our graduates serving communities in Arizona, nationally and globally – and we are grateful for this significant gift from Doris Norton and her family to advance our mission.”
Creighton’s Phoenix campus will enroll students in nursing, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, and physician assistant programs, as well as students in a four-year medical program. The new campus further strengthens a longstanding partnership between St. Joseph’s and Omaha-based Creighton established in 2005, when Creighton medical students began month-long rotations at the Phoenix hospital. That relationship expanded in 2009 when Creighton and St. Joseph’s established the Phoenix Regional Campus for third- and fourth-year medical students. In 2018, St. Joseph’s welcomed the inaugural cohort of students in Creighton’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program – putting students who hold undergraduate degrees on a 12-month trajectory to a new nursing career.
The $5 million gift underscores the passion and commitment to Arizona, St. Joseph’s and education shared by Doris and her husband, John, who died in 2016. John was born at the hospital, as were the couple’s three children. Together, John and Doris generously funded campus renovations to support the initial partnership between St. Joseph’s and Creighton University School of Medicine, and they established the Doris Norton Scholars program to endow scholarships for Creighton medical students.
In 2014, the Nortons made a transformational gift to St. Joseph’s in the amount of $19 million—the largest donation in Arizona history at that time—to establish the John and Doris Norton Cardiothoracic and Transplantation Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. Three years later, the institute’s lung transplant program soared to No. 1 in the nation, recognized for saving more lives than any other facility in the country while still maintaining the highest quality outcomes and shortest wait times.
Recently, Creighton University, Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health (formerly Maricopa Integrated Health System) and District Medical Group entered into a strategic partnership known as the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance. The partnership’s goal—to strengthen and expand graduate medical education programming to new generations of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals—will improve the health outcomes for our community, state and nation. Arizona currently ranks in the bottom third of all states in the number of residents and practicing physicians per 100,000 people. This alliance aims to attract healthcare students to undergo expertise training, degrees and careers in Phoenix for the benefit of patients throughout Arizona.