Maybe at one time, healthcare expansion and innovation in the West Valley was like a mirage. There was a glimmer of something happening, but the full picture was blurry.

Not anymore. Today, 1.6  million West Valley residents have numerous options when it comes to innovative healthcare.

According to 2017 Census estimates, there were 49,610 healthcare workers living in the West Valley. From wherever you stand, the vision of West Valley healthcare maturation should be crystal clear.

And in 2019, the West Valley has it all when it comes to healthcare: New facilities, job creation, diverse education, and innovative care and treatment. Keep these four elements in mind when assessing what “expansion in West Valley healthcare” truly means.

Anyone traveling the I-10 between Watson Road and 99th Avenue can quickly see the West Valley’s booming healthcare sector.

Avondale’s Health Tech Corridor connecting to Goodyear’s Medical Innovation Corridor, for example, houses more than 200 medical and healthcare-related business. This includes the Abrazo West Campus, Cancer Treatment Centers of America Phoenix, and Adelante Healthcare Goodyear’s new 45,000 square-foot facility, which is opening in phases.

“The growth in healthcare services is a direct result of the need created by the growing and diverse communities we serve,” says Christina Oh, CEO of the Abrazo West Campus, “and research shows that nearby excellent, cost-effective healthcare is considered a ‘must-have’ by employers and families alike.’”

Areas of growth

Other areas along the I-10 and the Loop 101 in the West Valley are home to the Dignity St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Southwest Valley Specialty Care Center, Banner Estrella Medical Center, and the Abrazo Arrowhead Campus.

In Sun City, the evolving and continuing partnership between Sun Health Foundation and Banner Health went even deeper with its “Generosity for Generations” campaign.

Generosity for Generations was designed to raise and invest $48 million to continue to support being a leader and create superior healthcare at Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb hospitals. The Campaign initiative includes plans for a 40,000-square-foot Banner Boswell Medical Center and emergency room expansion. This will provide 33 percent more patient beds and expand service capacity from 45,000 patient visits annually to 60,000 patient visits annually.

“Our long-standing partnership with Banner has helped us to develop two additional life-care healthcare facilities,” says Gina Ore, Sun Health Foundation’s executive vice president and chief philanthropy officer. “Sun Health has a total of three nonprofit life-care communities, employing 650 employees.”

Another recent addition to the West Valley’s healthcare facilities: Destiny Springs Healthcare behavioral healthcare facility in Surprise. The facility’s recent opening will introduce another 250 job opportunities for medical, support and administrative staff.

While economic development in the healthcare sector continues to fuel job creation, post-secondary support from educational outlets such as Midwestern University, Grand Canyon University, ASU West and the community colleges consistently shapes and provides the skilled talent to staff the West Valley’s innovative healthcare facilities.

“The demand for all healthcare providers—including veterinary—has been strong and will continue to be strong,” says Dr. Dennis Paulson, vice president of Midwestern University. “While we do not have exact numbers of how many alumni remain in the West Valley, our clinics employ many of our alumni and serve as primary training sites for our current students.

Approximately 40 percent of our graduates remain in the state of Arizona to practice, helping to address critical shortages statewide.”

In addition, Midwestern University has invested $425 million in its Glendale campus and is the home of Arizona’s largest medical school and the state’s only veterinary college. The Glendale campus has been instrumental in creating more than 850 campus-based jobs and linking more than 8,000 healthcare professionals from around the United States to Glendale as preceptors, according to Paulson.

“Part of our growth includes new Graduate Medical Education programs, which will be based at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus,” says Jeff Patterson, CEO of the Abrazo Arrowhead Campus. “Starting in July 2019, we’re adding an internal medicine residency and a general surgery residency, which will help bring new physicians to the community.”

Areas of innovation

The burst of diverse healthcare employment and education opportunities, while significant, aren’t the only noteworthy aspects of the ongoing West Valley healthcare expansion. Innovation is occurring everywhere in the West Valley, in several ways.

“The emergence of urgent care centers, freestanding emergency centers and micro-hospitals like our planned facility in Surprise, are innovations in care,” Oh says. “It’s all about delivering the right care, at the right place, at the right time.”

Cutting-edge research to improve outcomes for patients with cancer is also happening in the West Valley. Immunotherapy research being done at CTCA has shown to be effective in shrinking tumors for a durable period of time for a select percentage of patients.

A major area of the research is focusing on implementing combinations of therapy to improve on those results.

“Clinical advancements in cancer care have significantly changed the way in which we treat the disease, including offering patients access to the most advanced treatment options in a convenient, more cost-effective outpatient setting,” said Raj Garg, MD, JD, president and CEO of CTCA.

To stay current with technology and work with high-end physicians who can support innovative service lines, Abrazo has spent more than $100 million to become a leader in innovation.

Abrazo partnered with Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital in Surprise to become the first in Arizona to provide a new robotic body-weight support system to allow paralyzed patients to walk.

Abrazo’s Arrowhead Campus became the first hospital in Arizona to use the new Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System for minimally invasive orthopedic spine surgery.

Abrazo also became the first healthcare organization in Arizona to use NICO BrainPath, state-of-the-art technology that offers patients a less-invasive surgical option and for previously inoperable brain conditions.

For Sun Health, innovation encompasses adaptability.

“Innovation is being able to reinvent ourselves,” explains Ore. “For our unique senior and life-care models, this means incorporating preventative health strategies, focusing on quality of life, and offering services such as memory navigation, care transition, wellness programming, and more in a community-based partnership.”