Gilbert's economy and reputation received a big boost Wednesday with the news that Banner Health and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center will open a $90 million cancer hospital on the Banner Gateway Medical Center campus.
The M.D. Anderson Banner Cancer Center is scheduled to open in late 2011 and will be anchored by a 120,000-square-foot cancer outpatient center. It will include76 patient beds on two floors inside Banner Gateway.
Services will include medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, pathology, laboratory, diagnostic imaging, as well as other supportive clinical services.
"It's going to be the first truly international draw Gilbert really has," said Mayor Steve Berman. "Banner is a jewel to begin with, and this just takes it to another level. This center will bring in people from all over the world."
M.D. Anderson will have clinical oversight of all aspects of care delivery.
"We think with time this is going to be the regional cancer center for the multi-state area," said William Murphy, chairman of M.D. Anderson Physicians Network. "We will concentrate on the four major cancers first - lung, breast, colorectal and prostate - because that's where the biggest need is. There are 100 different kinds of cancer, so it's going to take us awhile to get to the more esoteric ones."
The 60-acre campus includes plenty of room for both future expansion of Banner Gateway and the cancer center, said Peter Fine, Banner Health's president and CEO. Banner Gateway eventually will include three towers with 450 hospital beds. The cancer center, too, will be expanded to accommodate future demand, he said.
"We didn't want to try to put the cancer center on a campus where it would displace other functions significantly, or where we had to tear down buildings and the cost that would be associated with that," he said. "This created the ability to add to this without creating any significant disruption to the campus ... that already exists."
The cancer center will be funded by Banner Health through bonds.
"We sold a whole bunch of bonds last year, and built into that bond proposal were resources to be able to support projects like this," Fine said. "Plus, we have ongoing resources that we use to support this project just in our normal course of dollars that flow through the organization."
The Gilbert cancer center represents M.D. Anderson's most comprehensive extension of its patient care outside of Houston. This is Banner's largest collaboration with a partner.
Construction is expected to start in January, during which recruiting of physicians and other personnel will take place, Fine said.
"It will take a group of physicians, a group of nurses and a whole enormous support cadre to manage all of those needs," Murphy said. "The exact numbers, we don't know exactly what that will be, but it will definitely grow over time."
M.D. Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For four of the past six years, it has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," an annual survey published in U.S. News & World Report.