Northwest Medical Center cleared another hurdle toward a September groundbreaking on its $85 million, 96-bed acute care hospital in Oro Valley, winning unanimous approval of its plans at the town's June 10 Development Review Board meeting.

The new 265,000 square-foot hospital, located on a 60-acre campus at 1833 E. Tangerine Road in Rancho Vistoso, is scheduled to open in February 2005 with about 300 employees.

The hospital will serve an estimated 100,000 residents who now must travel 10 miles or more for health care at the Northwest Medical Center, 6200 N. La Cholla Boulevard. According to the hospital, an estimated 30 percent of inpatient admissions at Northwest's main campus come from this service area.

"This new facility in Oro Valley is being planned not only for meeting the health care needs of the communities that it will serve today, but also to allow expansion for the future," said Paul Kappelman, Northwest's new chief executive officer in a prepared statement. "The design of the hospital is being done in such a way to accommodate the addition of a second bed tower and the addition of a second medical office building."

This second 80,000 square-foot building adjacent to the hospital will house 40 physicians. By 2010, more than 100 new physicians are expected to be serving the area, according to a hospital press release.

The hospital's three upper floors will house inpatient nursing units comprised of 96 beds to start and eventually increase to 180. The initial 96 beds will include an 18-bed intensive care unit and 14-bed rehabilitation unit. Inpatient services will specialize in cardiology, neuroscience, orthopedics, oncology and general surgery. A fourth floor will remain empty at the outset.

The first floor will have an 18-bay emergency department and outpatient services staffing to include imaging and diagnostics, cardiopulmonary testing, endoscopy lab and surgery. There also will be an indoor pool as part of the hospital's outpatient physical therapy program for orthopedics and sports medicine and four operating rooms.

Northwest Medical Center opened its doors in Tucson in 1983. Over the past three years it has spent more than $68 million on expansion, including construction of a 30-bed Women's Center, Arizona's first free-standing women's healthcare facility, enlargement of an emergency department from 22 to 46 beds, the completion of a $30 million tower addition to the main hospital and the opening in November 2000 of a $10 million outpatient services center at 13101 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley providing urgent care, diagnostics and physician services. An estimated 56,000 patients are expected to receive center services this year.

An urgent care center at West Ina and North Shannon roads opened in 1998.

The Oro Valley hospital will increase Northwest Medical Center capacity to 374 beds, surpassing the 365 beds at University Medical Center, but far short of the nearly 700 beds at Carondelet Health Network's St. Joseph's and St. Mary's hospitals.

Triad Hospitals Inc., Northwest Medical Center's parent company, owns and manages 49 hospitals and 14 ambulatory surgery centers in 14 states. The Dallas-based company, the third largest publicly-owned hospital corporation, also provides hospital management and consulting and advisory services to more than 200 independent community hospitals and health systems in 43 states trough its QHR subsidiary.

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