A bone marrow transplant center in Phoenix is moving to Gilbert.
Banner Health officials said they will relocate the 10-year-old City of Hope-Banner Bone Marrow Transplant Program located inside the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center to the planned $90 million M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The center, announced earlier this month, is scheduled to break ground in January on the Banner Gateway Medical Center campus in Gilbert.
The bone marrow treatment program currently has about 90 employees and 13 beds. Altogether, M.D. Anderson will employ 575 employees.
Bill Byron, a Banner Health spokesman, said the bone marrow-transplant center will allow officials to add more beds and hire more health-care professionals as population grows and doctors begin referring more patients.
"We have the ability to expand (the number of beds) by at least a third, and we intend to do that over time," he said.
The bone marrow treatment center will occupy part of the fifth floor of the M.D. Anderson building, which is scheduled to open in late 2011.
Byron cited space as a factor in the relocation. But the decision to move the center chiefly sprang from the desire to make M.D. Anderson a comprehensive cancer center.
"Bone marrow transplant is an important part of that being a comprehensive cancer center," he said.
The announcement at a Gilbert Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday surprised several business and town officials.
Kathy Langdon, the chamber's president and CEO, said it reflects positively on the town's efforts to make Gilbert a health-care industry leader in Arizona.
An ongoing assessment by the Morrison Institute that intends to help the town create a "preferred company environment" has zeroed in on the health-care sector as the best way to create a solid economic foundation and attract and retain jobs.
"I think it's a very significant win. The (M.D. Anderson Cancer) center itself is a significant win," said Greg Tilque, Gilbert's development services director.
Tilque said the center will give more identity to the town and attract more doctors.
Banner Health and City of Hope, based in Duarte, Calif., partnered to open the center in 1997 to better accommodate patients in the Valley and Southwest.
City of Hope, one of 40 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, has treated more than 700 cancer patients.