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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Merger improves hospital rankings at UA


Baraha Elkhalil/Arizona Summer Wildcat

The Banner-University Medical Center Tucson is located on Campbell Avenue and Adams Street on Aug. 8. Banner Health and the former University Medical Center-Tucson officially announced its initiative on June 26.

The merger between Banner Health and the former University of Arizona Medical Center was established last February, and is listed as one of the best hospitals in the country.

A recent U.S. News & World Report of best hospitals in the nation ranks the Banner—University Medical Center Tucson in three different specialties.

Tom Dickson, chief executive officer for Banner—University Medical Center Tucson and South, can’t wholly credit Banner Health with the ranking despite the nonprofit’s significant capital investment, plans to build a new facility and renovation of current facilities.

He said the UMC always ranked highly on these lists, even before the merger. This year’s rankings are largely a reflection of institutional quality at the former UMC. According to Dickson, the former UMC may have been strapped for cash and quickly becoming outdated, but its exceptional staff kept it among the nation’s elite.

“Honestly, I think the merger is just beginning to demonstrate the benefits,” Dickson said. “I’m not sure that I would say that anything that Banner [Health] has done since March is responsible for these results.”

Of the two ways to measure a hospital’s performance, clinical outcomes and patient experience, Dickson noted, “Banner takes the philosophy that both are important, both are critical, and it’s the patient-experience side that we’re really focusing on at this point.”

Dr. Mindy Fain, section chief of geriatrics and UMC staff member for 25 years, continues to work for the hospital since the merger. Her department contributes to the center’s ranking nearly every year, including the most recent ranking.

“We’ve been ranked every year for a long, long time,” said Dr. Fain, referring to the geriatrics department. “Most of the time we were alone, just us […] We actually have a long history of being the only [UMC department] on the U.S. News & World Report.”

Banner—University Medical Center’s geriatric department was ranked 38th in the nation this year, the highest ranking out of any Banner-University Medical Center specialty. The hospital had two other specialties ranked: nephrology at 41st and pulmonology at 49th.

While the results have yet to become wholly apparent, Banner Health has stepped up to strengthen programs and departments that were already at an exceptional level.

Both Dr. Fain and Dickson echoed the same importance of continuing the best possible patient experience.

While significant changes are being made to the hospital itself, Juliana Lang, a first-year medical student at the Banner–University Medical Center Phoenix, hasn’t witnessed many results from the merger.

“As a first-year medical student, the merger doesn’t really affect us at the school,” she said. “I think the effects are for rotations starting when a medical student is in their third year.”

Lang added that the dean of the school, Dr. Stuart Flynn, did mention there would be more focus on research, as well as focusing research in different directions.

More information about the merger can be found on the Banner–University Medical Center website at, and the hospital rankings are available in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals 2016 guidebook.

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