It has been five years since plans of a hospital coming to Maricopa were announced.
In 2012, Dignity Health purchased nearly 19 acres on the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road with the intention of building a 34,800-square-foot emergency facility and hospital by 2016.
The provider opened an urgent care facility in the Maricopa Fiesta shopping center the following year, but movement up the road on a new facility has not materialized.
It’s a service missing in the community, a fact Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart recognizes.
“People want to be able to be born in Maricopa and they want to be able to die in Maricopa, and I feel like it’s a huge element that does not exist in the city today,” Airheart said.
Since buying the property for more than $2 million five years ago, Dignity Health experienced an “evolution in healthcare,” Airheart said, including the hiring of a new CEO and the adoption of a new business model which likely slowed development of a facility in the city.
“There was discussion about Maricopa being the next location for a micro E.R. a few years ago. However, we did not meet the 25-mile radius requirement,” Airheart said.
Aiheart explained that state regulation mandates stand-alone emergency rooms be located 25 miles away from the provider’s main hospital. Chandler Regional Medical Center is 22 miles from Maricopa.
However, just because an emergency room has not been built, it does not mean one won’t be built.
“I think that our market will be one of the first ones the new CEO visits to assess what it is we need and how we fit into their future needs,” Airheart said.
The same year Dignity Health purchased land, Banner Health Center opened on Porter Road. The building sits on 20 acres owned by the provider and is the first of three phases of the clinic. The plansinclude construction of a second floor.
“[Banner has] been growing aggressively throughout the entire state, so I think that they’re perfectly poised for expansion in the southern portion of Maricopa,” Airheart said.
Even without a hospital, healthcare options in Maricopa have grown dramatically since before the days of incorporation in 2003.
Longtime resident Becky Bandin moved to the town in 1959 as a teenager. When someone was ill back then, they commuted to doctors’ offices and hospitals in the Valley and Casa Grande, Bandin explained.
Eventually, physicians came to Maricopa, and residents also used the urgent care facility, but Bandin said it is still not enough for the community’s needs.
“We need a hospital,” Bandin said. “The urgent care isn’t fully equipped and they still send us to Chandler and Phoenix.”
The possibility of a Maricopa hospital is something Airheart said could be a reality in a few years.
“If we see something happen in next two to three years, I think it’s perfect timing for (Dignity Health) and (Banner),” Airheart said.
Neither Dignity Health nor Banner responded to requests for an interview.