This article originally appeared in Healthcare Construction and Operations News on June 14, 2021

Valleywise Health Expands Facilities, Resources and Services as Part of $935-million “Care Reimagined” Program

As Maricopa County’s premier safety net healthcare system and teaching hospital, Valleywise Health (formerly known as the Maricopa Integrated Health System) set a goal to transform healthcare in the Phoenix area by expanding its facilities, resources and services. Proposition 480, which was overwhelmingly approved by Maricopa County voters in 2014, turned that goal into a reality and laid the foundation for Valleywise Health’s “Care Reimagined” program.

Valleywise Health had four main goals for the overall program:

  • Rebrand all aspects of the healthcare system
  • Expand its reach of services to underserved communities
  • Integrate behavioral health throughout the model of care for medical services
  • Replace its existing, outdated hospital with a new, state-of-the-art acute care hospital

Vanir, a leading national program, project and construction management firm, was selected to provide integrated program management services for the seven-year, $935-million program.

“Vanir is proud to partner with Valleywise Health to bring this critical, life-changing program to fruition,” said Rebecca Pyrz, Vanir Project Director.

To provide fully integrated services for all aspects of the program, Vanir strategically partnered with four major subconsultants:

  • Blue Cottage Consulting (reimagined the model of care for healthcare delivery)
  • The Innova Group (analyzed patient demographics and identified medical deserts)
  • Siegel + Gale (led the rebranding effort)
  • NNR Multicultural Business Development (community outreach)

Other firms involved with the program include Land Advisors Organization, Affiliated Engineers, Inc., Kitchell Contractors, Cuningham Group/EYP Health, Hobbs+Black Architects, Okland Construction, DWL Architects + Planners, Inc., Sundt Construction, DLR Group and Gilbane Building Company.

Established in 1877, Valleywise Health predominantly provides healthcare services to underserved, low-income and ethnically diverse populations. Over the past 140-plus years, they have built a reputation for delivering high-quality, innovative and compassionate care in a safe, ethical and inclusive manner.

“As a comprehensive healthcare system, Valleywise is charged with providing quality healthcare to the entire community,” said Jennifer Frost, Vanir’s Arizona Area Manager. “If you look at the drivers that keep people from seeking preventative medical care, the main one is a lack of access. Convenient, timely access to integrated, effective efficient healthcare can reduce the overall cost of care and allow greater access for all. The “Care Reimagined” program was specifically designed to address these issues.”

Project Timeline

The bond measure that passed in 2014 has funded multiple construction and renovation projects, as well as a systemwide rebranding initiative.

“(Moving away from Maricopa Integrated Health System and) becoming Valleywise Health (has allowed) us to more effectively articulate under one distinct and memorable name our bold vision to improve community health, while providing a modern network of services and facilities in which to train the next generation of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals,” said Steve Purves, Valleywise Health President and CEO.

The “Care Reimagined” process began with a comprehensive demographic study to identify the medical and behavioral health needs of Maricopa County residents; barriers to healthcare, including transportation; what types of care were most needed in each neighborhood; where existing clinics were located; and medical deserts, analyzing hard data to determine what size and type of clinics were needed and where.

Concurrent with the demographic analysis, the project team began the programming process, facilitating meetings with the entire patient care team for each type of care, and developing workflows to reimagine and improve the efficacy and efficiency of each model of care. The team then developed programs for each of the new facilities based on system-wide use of each new care model.

Completed community health/behavioral health centers include:

  • Comprehensive Health Center – Peoria (127,000 square feet, completed in 2021)
  • Community Health Center – South Phoenix/Laveen (27,000 square feet, completed in 2020)
  • Community Health Center – North Phoenix (27,000 square feet, completed in 2020)
  • Behavioral Health Center – Maryvale (250,000 square feet, completed in 2019)

Upcoming community health centers include:

  • Community Health Center – West Maryvale (scheduled to open later this year)
  • Community Health Center – Mesa (scheduled to open in early 2022)

Another set of projects are occurring at the site of the current Roosevelt Hospital, where a new Medical Center tower is being built. Once completed, the 10-story (plus a basement), 673,000-square-foot tower will include 233 private patient rooms, a dedicated floor for the renowned Arizona Burn Unit, 10 operating rooms (four additional shelled), two interventional radiology areas, two catheterization labs (one built, one shelled), a dedicated procedural floor and rooftop and ground-level helipads.

Additional work at the Roosevelt Hospital campus includes renovating part of the existing hospital warehouse to provide a new Central Utility Plant (CUP), providing mechanical upgrades for the existing, fully occupied behavioral health hospital and constructing a new support services building, plus a complete hardscape and landscape revitalization once all construction on the campus is complete.

Innovative Solutions

Staying within the budget set by the bonds has been the biggest challenge to date. The team has worked together to develop and implement innovative solutions to save money.

Initial savings came from the ability to reuse the recently closed Maryvale Hospital facility as a behavioral health inpatient hospital. The building was built in the 1970s, before hospitals had all the equipment they have now. Due to the limited height between the floors, the building could not be renovated to current standards for acute medical care. After demolition started, the team also realized that the entire plumbing system was deteriorated and needed to be replaced. Even with these challenges, the team was able to breathe new life into the building. The facility opened in April of 2019 with 194 behavioral health inpatient beds, filling a long-standing critical need within the community. In addition, the Maryvale Emergency Care Center was updated and reopened to serve the community.

At the Roosevelt campus, analysis of the hospital supply chain showed that the existing warehouse was larger than needed. The central position of that facility provided an ideal location for the new CUP, which was built inside the existing warehouse. By sequencing the new CUP for early completion and connecting it to the existing hospital, the team was able to save Valleywise an estimated $500,000 per year in energy costs.

Perhaps the greatest challenge has been managing the complexities of expanding and renovating active healthcare facilities while minimizing disruptions and ensuring patient, staff and worker safety.

“The Roosevelt Hospital is a Level I Trauma Center, teaching hospital and burn center,” Pyrz said. “Impacting operations, patient care and emergency vehicles isn’t an option. We’ve got enormous cranes here, so you can imagine the communication that had to go on with the emergency helicopters and flight plans and so forth.”

Care Reimagined

The commitment it takes to change the way a medical system provides care is enormous. Valleywise Health has that commitment.

“When you come to Valleywise, you receive equal or better care than you would receive at any of the other hospitals,” Pyrz said. “That was one of the key things in rebranding, is for people to realize that you’re receiving excellent care every time you come here. Like their website says, they are committed to providing ‘exceptional care, without exception, every patient, every time.’”

Frost added, “Vanir has managed more than 250 healthcare projects since 1980. We are proud to say that we have worked on high-profile, award-winning programs and projects for some of the largest and most prestigious healthcare systems in the country. Valleywise Health is at the top of that list.”