Cancer hospital opens in Valley
aims to help patients and community
Elias C. Arnold - Dec. 30, 2008
The Arizona Republic
Cancer Treatment Centers of America's first hospital in the
Southwest is expected to provide an economic boost for the Valley as it draws
patients from across the region, according to economic-development experts.
For loyal patients, it's a priceless lifeline.
"Traveling when you don't feel
good is probably the pits," said the hospital's first patient, John
Dziewiatowski, a Glendale resident who had previously traveled to Tulsa, Okla., for treatment at a CTCA hospital.
CTCA, an Illinois-based, for-profit
company, opened its Western Regional Medical Center on Monday in Goodyear.
"Contrary to what some of our friends were concerned
about, this isn't somebody coming in here, slicing out of the pie," said
Barry Broome, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix
Economic Council. "This is someone coming in here, bringing more of the
pie in and then making the pie bigger."
The hospital, southwest of Interstate 10 and Litchfield Road, is starting with 150 employees but expects to grow its staff to at least
400 in two to four years. Between payroll and spending, it is projected to pump
$53.1 million annually into Goodyear's economy alone, according to a study
by Applied Economics of Phoenix. The financial boon comes at a critical time.
State and local governments are struggling with sharp declines in revenues and
The hospital welcomed its first patient Monday, but it has
been putting down roots in the Valley for months, seeking to make an impact in
the community. Like CTCA's three other hospitals - in suburban Chicago, Tulsa
and Philadelphia - the Goodyear facility offers traditional and alternative
therapy in a patient-friendly environment designed to minimize stress and
maximize customer service.
CTCA's new $107 million facility is part of more than $2
billion in hospital construction in Arizona over the past few years. Goodyear
officials say they are hearing from developers and tenants hoping to tie in
with the hospital.
"We continue to get interest because of the fact that
Cancer Treatment Centers has located here," said Harry Paxton, Goodyear's
CTCA expects to treat up to 300 patients a day in Goodyear
and could be running at full steam as early as late January.
The 24-bed hospital plans to contract with local hotels for
outpatient visits. Marriott is building a TownePlace Suites across the street,
and two more hotels are planned nearby.
CTCA officials say patients travel an average of 500 miles
for treatment at their hospitals. About 250 current patients live within the
company's Western region, served by the Goodyear facility.
Patients' visits should offset some of the money Arizona loses each year when people seek specialized medical care out of state.
"We have about $2 billion of health-care work in this
market that leaves this region to go elsewhere because we're short health-care
providers," Broome said.
Picking a site
Labor availability, proximity to the millions of people who
live in Southern California and airport access helped Arizona secure a CTCA
hospital, according to Dave Veillette, president and CEO of the Goodyear facility.
The facility is dubbed a destination hospital because it is expected to draw
patients from across Arizona and surrounding states.
"When it came down to it, Phoenix became the Number 1
site," Veillette said. On the West Coast, CTCA runs a clinic in Seattle.
Having a full-service hospital in Arizona will save
Dziewiatowski time and energy.
On Monday, the 55-year-old was in for an annual checkup after
a bout with kidney cancer and nodules discovered in his lungs. He is
cancer-free now, but during his treatment, he had to take up to four days off
for each visit to CTCA's Tulsa hospital.
He called CTCA "an all-around better facility for
cancer," but those trips were "very exhausting, very tiring."
CTCA looked at 37 sites in the Valley before selecting a
medical campus in Phoenix, near Loop 101 and Thomas Road, in 2007.
Four months later, the company decided to build its hospital
on 25 acres in Goodyear, which offered CTCA an $85 million property-tax break.
Since announcing its plans for Goodyear, CTCA has made a
point of giving back.
In November, the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex hosted the inaugural Cancer
Treatment Centers of America Championships. The company is paying nearly
$600,000 under a three-year contract.
On Saturday, the hospital presented $2,500 to 17-year-old
Alex Bommarito of Gilbert, an aspiring pediatric endocrinologist. The money
will pay for the diabetic teen's trip to the National Youth Leadership Forum on
Medicine next summer in Boston.
Veillette said the hospital is involved in the community
because it is "the right thing to do."
"You don't build good leaders by
having them think you don't have to be involved," he said.
Last Updated: 12/30/2008