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Ariz. FFs union president leads opposition of new hospital

Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association leader says the planned hospital would worsen a shortage of medical professionals



By Tom Scanlon
East Valley Tribune

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Though certainly not as toe-tapping as “Dueling Banjos,” the tune playing around Hayden Road and the Loop 101 might be called “Dueling Hospitals.”

With potential medical campuses by the Valley’s healthcare heavyweights on either side of the freeway, some are crying out a complaint that would baffle many communities: “Too many hospitals!”

Perhaps even more bewilderingly, a firefighter is leading the charge against a $400 million hospital.

Sasha Weller, president of the Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, said his group opposes Banner’s planned hospital on Hayden Road just south of the Loop 101 because “North Scottsdale already has great medical care.”

He said Banner’s “unneeded hospital” on Hayden Road would exacerbate “a shortage of medical professionals and support staff.”

Weller said the existing Mayo and HonorHealth hospitals in North Scottsdale are meeting the needs of the community — warning “an oversaturation of hospitals puts quality care at risk.”

Susan McGarry, president of the Scottsdale Stonebrook II HOA, said she and the 170 homes at Stonebrook are worried about the day-to-day impact of a Banner hospital nearby — especially as it’s across the street from a massive Axon expansion.

“Everyone I have spoken with is super concerned about a hospital at that location, including the traffic and noise it would bring,” McGarry said.

“People are also questioning the necessity for another hospital,” she added, noting HonorHealth’s recent purchase of land on the other side of the Loop 101.

According to Becky Armendariz, a Banner spokeswoman, traffic increases around Stonebrook will be minimal.

“We selected our location at a major intersection alongside one of the Valley’s busiest freeways to minimize traffic and noise concerns,” she said.

As for the neighbors, “We’re proactively reaching out to residents, businesses and other stakeholders to meet, answer questions and address their concerns,” Armendariz said.

The Banner spokeswoman also addressed Weller’s worries about a big new hospital stressing a limited workforce.

“Banner will have no issues staffing the new medical campus. We’ve been a national leader in addressing the shortage of health care workers,” Armendariz said.

She said Banner partners with multiple Arizona schools “to staff Banner openings with well-trained college graduates.”

HonorHealth strikes first

The Banner-HonorHealth rivalry here dates back to December, when HonorHealth’s $84 million bid topped Banner Health for 48 acres of State Trust Land near the northeast corner of Hayden Road and the Loop 101.

Banner Health had planned a hospital and medical center there.

Shortly after landing the bid on Hayden Road, HonorHealth broke ground — but not at that location.

HonorHealth’s newest Scottsdale facility will also be off the Loop 101, but at Pima Road, 8 miles south of the Hayden Road exit of the freeway.

HonorHealth did not answer a request by the Progress for what it plans for Hayden Road.

A 10-minute drive from the Hayden Road exit, the $50 million HonorHealth Medical Campus at Pima Center is scheduled to open next summer.

It plans to provide sports medicine, primary care, urgent care, imaging, physical therapy, bariatrics and other preventive services, as well as a “medical fitness center” with free weights, cardio machines, aquatics center, gymnasium and a running track.

According to a press release, “The new facility in Scottsdale will bridge the gap between medical and whole-body wellness.”

“This new offering for HonorHealth is an illustration of how we are furthering our mission to improve the health and well-being of those we serve,” said Todd LaPorte, CEO of HonorHealth.

Banner counterpunch

After losing the bid to HonorHealth in December, Banner shifted gears and bought land on the other side of the Loop 101 for a hospital/campus it hopes to open in 2026.

Plans for Banner Health Medical Campus at Hayden Road were announced three months ago.

But the health care giant has plenty of preliminary work to do.

After purchasing the land, next on the list is a request for a zoning district change to facilitate a medical campus featuring a full-service hospital with a helipad on 48 acres.

According to the Banner spokeswoman, “The application is undergoing first review by city staff. Public meetings or hearings have not yet been scheduled.”

The plans show multiple buildings varying from two to five stories high.

The Banner site is at 18400 N. Hayden Road, for years occupied by Celebration of Fine Art, which, according to its website, hosted “100 renowned and emerging artists from across the country”.

According to a Banner press release, the $400 million project will include an acute care hospital, adjacent medical office building and a cancer center.

An open house regarding a zoning and development request for the Banner project was held March 29.

Banner Scottsdale Medical Center “will be a full-service, destination hospital with a focus on key areas of distinction for Banner, including cardiovascular, orthopedics, cancer and neuroscience programs,” according to a press release.

Armendariz said the Hayden Road hospital will serve “the 50,000 Banner members who live nearby ... and it will serve the 100,000 new residents who will move to the area in the coming years.”

She added that Banner “is actively meeting and speaking with leaders in the fire service, including in Scottsdale.

“Banner has always had great relationships with fire departments, ambulance companies and associations across Arizona, and we’re partnering with them to design a hospital that delivers quality emergency care when people call 911.”

Armendariz said Banner invites comments and concerns to be shared at

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