U of A in Downtown Phoenix.. Does This Smell Funny?

There is a lot of talk about U of A building a new cancer center in downtown Phoenix.  There is no denying that this would help fulfill long ago given promises made by the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.  I am not sure where I stand on this.  I just know something is rotten in the state of Denmark.  U of A pushing so hard to be in Phoenix and Mayor Gordon seemingly so willing to help them find money to borrow.

Then all the talk of Maricopa Integrated Healthcare System (MIHS) partnering with U of A to create a medical center in downtown.  I want to be really optimistic because the thought of increased biotechnology sectors and increased health care are big wins.  However, I am reminded of the phrase of “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is”.  So help me out.  Tell me what I’m missing here or am I just being unduly paranoid?


  1. Maricopa has been looking for a partner for years. When it was the county hospital, and we had not ACCCHS it served a purpose. Now the hospital is an old building, with a non-academic faculty that is getting a check from the county every year to take care of indigent. But, in reality – it is unneeded.
    Private hospitals like Banner Good Samaritan, St. Joes, and St. Lukes provide the downtown with plenty of services. The burn unit would easily be moved to one of the trauma centers.
    Yes, something fishy is there– if the County hospital were to close, it would save the county millions of dollars, and health care would not suffer.

  2. The UofA is well known for it’s cancer treatment and research. The School of Medicine isn’t too bad, and the Pharmacy school is one of the best in the nation. I think ASU could learn many things and benefit from a UofA presence in downtown Phoenix. Why would you not want the best education around? And I’m not saying that just because I’m an alumnus.

    And, what’s wrong with a little competition? ASU and UofA are both state schools, but one school can’t do everything.

    That said, it also does feel odd that schools feel the need to expand, into Phoenix no less. I think until I see otherwise, this can only be a positive thing for downtown Phoenix and the local biomedical community.

  3. As you are likely already aware, UA has been in downtown Phoenix since August 2007, co-located with ASU at the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative, an advanced research facility. I’m not sure who wants them here more, UA to expand the the reach of their medical school, or Mayor Gordon, to implement his dream of a bio-science campus. Regardless MIHS would be a good partner, seeing as they are already in central Phoenix and in need of a new hospital.

    At the end of the day though, both are welcome additions to the Valley and downtown Phoenix in particular. Universities should be working together and building on each others strengths. Quite frankly it was embarrassing that a region of 4+ million people couldn’t train it’s own doctor—I believe that Phoenix may be the largest MSA with out a medical school.

    As for being paranoid — yes you are; but that doesn’t mean the aren’t still out to get you. 😉

  4. Hey Derek,

    UA is a land grant (and space grant), research-based university meaning the majority of funding has to come from research & tuition, rather than state-funds. It also means that UA must focus on the teaching of agriculture, science (medicine) and engineering.

    In addition, I believe the Board of Regents significantly changed the charters of the three state universities 4 or 5 years ago. One of those changes gave UA the sole medical school in the state. It’s only logical that UA build their medical presence in the state’s largest city. It will help keep medical and medical research talent in the state rather than have those people leave to other states that have well-recognized medical institutions such as California.

    No need for paranoia here. UA is simply focusing their efforts on their charter and pushing for growth in areas where they have significant talent.

    Hope this helps ease your paranoia.

  5. If you need any more justification, Becker’s Hospital Review just named UA’s University Medical Center one of the 10 best hospitals in America for 2009. http://www.hospitalreviewmagazine.com/news-and-analysis/current-statistics-and-lists/beckers-hospital-review-names-10-best-hospitals-for-2009.html

    Medical centers were judged on being, “…leaders in all elements of quality care, drivers of innovation and trendsetters. Their success is recognized by the likes of U.S. News & World Report, Thompson Reuters, HealthGrades, Leapfrog, their communities and industry associations. They are models businesses and establish the bar for excellence.”

    Other medical centers included the Mayo Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Mass General and John Hopkins. That’s some pretty good company. We need that in Phoenix.

  6. I agree with almost all the comments above. U of A has been in Phoenix for a long time in the Health Sciences. Banner screwed MIHS by choosing not to partner with them, and then withdrew from its deal in downtown. Downtown needs a hospital for the medical school students to train in. And BTW, the County Hospital takes indigents that no one else takes, and health care WOULD suffr without it. I hope Betsy (Bayless) and UA can pull this together.

    UA also runs a statewide telemedicine program out of Phoenix, with the capability to do remote diagnosis.

    The only place i don’t agree: it seems every city in the Valley is angling to have a cancer center. Gilbert has one, Goodyear has one, Scottsdale has one, etc. I remember when all these cities were angling for heart hospitals and cardiac cath labs. It’s a real duplication of facilities and money. Unfortunately UA Cancer center is not the one that needs to be curtailed — it has had a stellar reputation before any of the others got here (CTCA, MDAnderson, etc).

  7. Competition? Don’t make me vomit. Didn’t UA work for years and years to prevent ASU from even becoming a university – shunning the US Dept of Education and non-Pima County residents until it finally forced ASU to expend resources to become the first university to be created by a vote of the people? And then didn’t UA block ASU time and again from getting its own medical school, which as mentioned, would make sense in the nation’s fifth largest city? Sorry, but UA has a long history of outright antagonism towards meeting the needs of the Phoenix metro area.

  8. If you do vomit Scott, there’ll be a UA medical school grad around to help you. 😉 We need UA’s elite medical program in Phoenix. UA’s Eller School also has an outpost for Executive MBAs in Scottsdale. Here’s to more UA programs establishing an outpost in the PHX metro area.

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