Residents of the Green Valley and Sahuarita area will at long last get a hospital and an emergency room, TMC says.
Tucson Medical Center officials announced plans Thursday to build a $52 million, 32-bed hospital in Green Valley that is expected to open in 2014.
Some 50,000 people live in the Green Valley and Sahuarita area south of Tucson.
TMC said it had entered a "memorandum of understanding" to develop and operate the hospital with Scottsdale-based McDowell Enterprises.
Though TMC is nonprofit, the new Green Valley hospital will be for-profit. TMC has entered the agreement through its subsidiary, Saguaro Medical Holdings.
Officials say it's too early in the process to know specifics of the financing, including how much TMC will invest. They are also not saying how big the hospital will be aside from a bed count.
The hospital will give Green Valley and nearby Sahuarita residents their first emergency room. Residents must now travel about 30 minutes by car when they need an ER. The Carondelet Health Network had previously talked about opening a hospital in Sahuarita, but those plans were shelved during the recession.
"We moved here in 1995 and it's been talked about ever since then. It's something we felt we needed for a long time," said Stan Riddle, president of the Green Valley Council. "We are very pleased. We just hope it comes to fruition. There are still obstacles."
McDowell Enterprises specializes in the development of medical and office buildings. The family-owned company's completed projects include the 67,000-square-foot Gateway Medical Campus in Gilbert and the 60,000- square-foot Price Warner Commerce Center in Tempe.
Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll has been working on the project with McDowell for almost 2 1/2 years, said Tom Ward, manager of Carroll's Green Valley-Sahuarita office. Ward praised McDowell for involving Carroll and the Green Valley Council from the beginning.
Ward said the planned hospital's location - just off of Interstate 19 by the Canoa Ranch exit - will be convenient, particularly because Canoa Ranch is expected to add 2,500 new homes in the next few years.
McDowell spokesman Frank Thomson said the hospital and accompanying medical offices will sit on 22 acres of property that McDowell expects to acquire from Fairfield Canoa Ranch.
The project is expected to create nearly 1,000 indirect and direct jobs.
The hospital plans include a cardiac catheterization lab, four operating rooms, on-site radiological imaging labs, 26 inpatient private rooms, a six-bed intensive care unit and medical office space. Officials say they will build with the ability to expand the facility as the community grows.
"The most important fact is that after many years, citizens will have their own hospital," Ward said. "Right now it takes 30 minutes to get to a hospital in Tucson. Once this is built, in essence, people will be five minutes away by ambulance."
He added that retirees, who form a large part of the Green Valley population, are a "very good market for hospitals."
A recent community needs assessment completed by Tucson's nonprofit hospitals identified Green Valley as a medically underserved area. Recent additions of urgent-care clinics and a rotating specialty clinic have been positive steps for the area, but without a hospital, there was still a gap in services.
"We are thrilled to be in this process with TMC. This is one of those rare development opportunities that can truly improve the quality of life for the residents of Green Valley," McDowell Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Jim McDowell said in a news release.
TMC officials say their electronic medical records program as well as their policies and quality measures will be part of the new hospital's operations.
"Our operational expertise and investment would complement that of McDowell Enterprises, which has more than 35 years of experience developing specialized facilities including hospitals and medical offices," Judy Rich, president and chief executive officer of TMC, said in a news release.
TMC spokeswoman Julia Strange said the hospital has been interested in serving the Green Valley area for several years.
Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at email@example.com or 573-4134.