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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA hospital plan called unfair deal

    The UA is continuing a plan to build a hospital for its medical school campus in downtown Phoenix, despite a heated conflict with one of the state’s biggest health care providers.

    Maricopa Integrated Health Systems has created a stir in the statewide media, decrying the UA’s decision to build its hospital with Banner Health, a private national chain.

    Maricopa has also put a $40 million bid on the hospital’s planned building site to stall its construction.

    The decision to partner with Banner came after five months of discussion involving all three parties, said Judy Bernas, associate vice president of university external relations.

    Bernas said both companies were present for the talks, but the UA looked to a national consultant for help in making the decision, who said that the UA College of Medicine stood to gain the most from partnering with Banner.

    Bernas said that after that assessment, the UA circulated three different versions of a memorandum of understanding between the university and the two companies, but Maricopa eventually removed itself from the conversation.

    Maricopa denies that it knew anything about the eventual decision until it was made public.

    “”Unfortunately, we didn’t back away from the table; they put the table in the back room and cut a deal,”” said Maricopa spokesman Gibson McKay.

    Maricopa thought the discussions about the medical school’s hospital were going well and was blindsided by the announcement, McKay said.

    “”That is their view of it; it is not consistent with what we believe,”” said Dr. Keith Joiner, dean of the College of Medicine. “”There was nothing opaque about it. It was transparent.””

    Chief among the company’s concerns is the cost to Arizona taxpayers, who McKay said will end up paying twice for hospital services.

    McKay said that Maricopa, a publicly funded organization, already has plans to build a hospital in downtown Phoenix, and that a new hospital will require some state funding as well.

    “”I just think the U of A cut a bad deal for taxpayers – period,”” McKay said.

    Joiner said Banner will fund the entire construction, without any help from the Legislature.

    The state will be asked to provide funding, but only to the College of Medicine itself, not the hospital, Joiner said.

    McKay said that in addition to the problem with its funding, he doesn’t think the proposed hospital of fewer than 200 beds will completely serve the medical school.

    Joiner said he hopes to cooperate with Maricopa at their planned hospital, putting medical students in rotation there as well as in the university facility, though it is unclear whether that will happen.

    “”We don’t view anything we’re proposing as an opportunity to cut Maricopa out,”” Joiner said.

    The UA has not made any exact arrangements regarding the facility or the land it would occupy, Joiner said.

    McKay said Maricopa had heard the UA might get a cheap “”freebie”” lease on that land, so the company made its own bid with the city of Phoenix.

    Several city council members have expressed their unhappiness with the UA’s decision, McKay said.

    Bernas said many councillors would like to see a solution that satisfies all three groups, but she thinks it is impossible to make everyone completely happy.

    Banner Health and the UA have also partnered to build another cancer center near the Phoenix College of Medicine campus, as a satellite of the center in Tucson.

    The new facility’s main goal would be to allow patients who live in Phoenix to receive high-quality treatment closer to where they live, rather than drive to Tucson on a frequent basis, said David Alberts, cancer center director.

    “”Certainly no one should have to travel more than an hour to take care of their cancer problems,”” Alberts said.

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