Efforts Underway to Bring Hospital to Laveen
When Michael Nowakowski, newly appointed District 7 councilman, investigated the idea of bringing a hospital to the Laveen, residents werent the only people who expressed need.
I started talking with firefighters and paramedics and they were bringing up the same concerns, saying, You know, Michael, it takes us anywhere from a half hour to 40 minutes to get to the nearest hospital from any point in Laveen or South Mountain, he said.
Phoenix Memorial Hospital closed its emergency room last June and now offers urgent care and services such as long-term care and rehabilitation.
Nowakowski points to St. Josephs Hospital and Medical Center, at 3rd Avenue and Thomas Road, Maryvale Hospital, at 51st and Campbell Avenues, and Banner Estrella Medical Center, at the Loop 101 Freeway and Thomas Road, as the nearest hospitals with trauma centers.
Heavy rains this winter have made it challenging to reach these locations, due to the closures of 91st and 67th avenues at the Salt River. Also, the river crossings at 51st, 35th and 19th avenues are slower than normal because of bridge construction and heavier traffic, especially during peak hours.
Nowakowski and members of his staff are currently working with the City of Phoenixs Economic Development Department to locate land for a hospital and contact hospital providers.
What were hoping to do is provide a marriage for both, Nowakowski said. Well find some developers who have some land, and well find a hospital provider and just join them.
From a provider perspective, one of the biggest holdups, he said, is uncertainty with the South Mountain Freeway. Furthermore, West Valley cities such as Avondale, Goodyear and Buckeye are also seeking medical centers.
I believe we can beat the competition once we get that freeway in, Nowakowski stressed, adding that completion of the freeway isnt necessary, only a firm commitment that construction is planned. It doesnt matter if its going to be within five years, 12 years or whatever.
In addition to the economic benefits, the freeway would also bring another bridge across the river.
Besides the freeway, hospital providers are seeking a certain number of homes in the area a figure thats currently lower than whats preferred.
According to Bruce MacTurk, economic development program manager for the City of Phoenix, discussions about a hospital in the Laveen area began last summer during a meeting with former District 7 Councilman Doug Lingner and continued when Nowakowski took office.
In both instances, our discussions were very preliminary and involved having our planning staff identify potential 50- to 75-acre sites within District 7 that may be consistent with our General Plan and which could potentially accommodate a regional hospital operation, he said.
In the coming weeks, Nowakowski is meeting with property owners in Laveen and forming a committee to talk about economic development. And while a hospital is one of the top priorities, a timeline for building the facility is still unclear.
Im hoping its less than five years down the road, Nowakowski said. I honestly believe there are people who are very interested, and I see the freeway happening pretty soon.