Many people have come to know our “county hospital” through the iconic 1970s-era tower on East Roosevelt Street, known as Maricopa Medical Center.
Most don’t realize the Valley has actually had a public hospital system dating back to Arizona’s territorial days. Since then, Maricopa Integrated Health System has been delivering quality, cost-effective health care to all who enter its doors.
But MIHS is more than a safety-net hospital for our most vulnerable. It’s a place with a unique mission like other great public hospitals across America’s largest urban areas. Almost every major metropolitan area in the United States has a public hospital system.
As Maricopa County’s only public hospital, MIHS serves a distinctive role that no other hospital can fill.
MIHS includes a world-class teaching hospital, a Level 1 trauma center for adults and children, the nationally acclaimed Arizona Burn Center, the Valley’s leading mental health facilities and 11 community health centers that cover the Valley – particularly in underserved areas.
It is a great point of pride that the emergency room and trauma center is a preferred destination for police officers, firefighters and emergency responders who get injured in the line of duty while working to keep our communities safe.
These are just a few reasons why such a broad and bipartisan coalition of business and community leaders, elected officials, as well as public-safety and medical professionals are backing Proposition 480 and asking for your vote on Nov. 4.
The truth is, this is a critical time for MIHS.
The hospital system is delivering 21st century health care in facilities that were constructed more than 40 years ago – when President Nixon was in office. The buildings are outdated, their designs obsolete and their technology outmoded. MIHS has to spend millions of dollars each year on repairs of outdated and worn equipment.
Over these decades, modern medicine has significantly advanced patient treatment, reducing hospital stays and improving recovery times. This is why a new Maricopa Medical Center would have fewer beds, not more, and a greater focus on outpatient care and mental health services.
While some facilities, such as the county hospital, would be smaller and more efficient, a portion of Prop. 480 would expand behavioral health services to meet the growing demand to serve the seriously mentally ill.
As community members and stewards of our public hospital system, we take seriously the responsibility of protecting taxpayer dollars. We can tell you with certainty that Proposition 480 is the fiscally responsible solution.
Your elected MIHS Board of Directors and an independent bond committee of 15 civic-minded community leaders – through two years of study in open meetings, public outreach and facility assessment – determined it would cost more to maintain the aging facilities over the next 30 years than build and update new ones. Plus, with the lowest interest rates in history, the cost of floating a bond makes more economic sense than any other time in the last 100 years.
There is something else about MIHS that many people don’t know: It’s an economic engine. Besides employing more than 4,500 people, MIHS operates the county’s only public teaching hospital, training more than 400 of the best and brightest doctors each year.
Most of the doctors who train here, stay here. About 75 percent stayed in Arizona last year, which goes a long way in helping to address the physician shortage in Arizona. Arizona ranks 43rd in the country for doctors per capita.
Incredibly, some individuals looking after their own self-interests – and others whose ideologies simply cannot accept the idea of a public hospital system – have made the erroneous claim that other hospitals could absorb the patient population that MIHS faithfully serves.
Once you get past the talking points, it’s clear this “just say no” plan would serve only their interests while overburdening an already stressed health care system in Maricopa County.
MIHS has a unique mission and represents less than 5 percent of the total market share. MIHS patient population is nearly 90 percent AHCCCS or charity care. Reimbursement rates for AHCCCS patients are well below that of private insurance. MIHS provides the best care at the lowest possible cost of any health care facility in Maricopa County.
In short, our medical professionals work every day on the front lines of the most severe trauma, burn and mental health cases. And they provide care for all who enter our doors. No one is turned away – ever.
Voting “Yes” on Prop. 480 helps ensure MIHS’ legacy will last for generations to come.
– Dr. Kote Chundu, Mike Cowley, Mark Dewane, Rich & Karie Dozer, Phil & Juanita Francis, Sue Gerard, Tom McKinley, Paulina Morris, Bill Post, Fran Roberts