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Voters support expanding county health care system

A divided electorate in Maricopa County found common ground on Election Day by showing overwhelming support for our community’s public teaching hospital and safety net health care system.

Maricopa County voters unified around Valleywise Health and our unique mission by approving Proposition 449 – 63% to 37% – and extending a secondary property tax that supports our operations. We are extremely grateful and honored by this show of support.

Valleywise Health has been the cornerstone of public health care in Maricopa County for over 140 years. We’ve gone through many evolutions but have stayed consistent in our commitment to providing quality care for uninsured and underinsured residents, who make up 65% of our patients.

Thanks to this public support, we’re serving more patients than ever, with many receiving services that extend beyond medical care to include the mental health needs of the individual. We’ve opened new clinics across the county, transformed the old Maryvale hospital into a 24/7 emergency department and behavioral health hospital and begun construction of a new 10-story hospital to replace the nearly 50-year-old Valleywise Health Medical Center at 24th and Roosevelt streets.

By teaming with our partners – District Medical Group, Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance, and Valleywise Health Foundation – we’re able to stay at the forefront of important services like burn care, trauma, behavioral health, HIV/AIDS, emergency medicine, pediatrics and treatment of chronic disease.  Our work with Arizona’s public universities, and collaboration with the Valley’s excellent private health care systems, helps our entire health care ecosystem function more effectively and efficiently.

Steve Purves

Steve Purves

We are especially proud of our historic teaching mission – training hundreds of clinicians each year in 13 specialty areas ranging from dentistry to psychiatry, and thousands of nurses, and allied health professionals who accept important health care assignments here in Maricopa County and across our state. These dedicated professionals only add to the quality of life here in Arizona, as they help to reduce barriers and improve access to quality health care, especially for vulnerable populations and those in underserved areas.

Over the last several years, Valleywise Health has received attention for our financial turnaround and for dramatic improvements in a variety of benchmarks for measuring quality and efficiency. This year, Valleywise Health was recognized as one of the top-performing major teaching hospitals in the U.S. by IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals. Just as important, Valleywise Health Medical Center was honored with the “Everest Award,” which recognizes hospitals that achieved a “Top 100 hospitals” designation and also had the fastest rate-of-improvement during the preceding five-year period. Only 20 hospitals nationwide earned that distinction in 2020.

All of this progress stems from the more than 4,000 dedicated Valleywise Health employees and medical staff who devote their lives to serving others, and to the governance oversight provided by the Maricopa County Special Health Care District Board of Directors, made up of five dedicated members elected to serve by voters in their respective districts within Maricopa County.  

With the strong public support shown on Election Day for Prop. 449, we will be able to continue providing care to the most vulnerable and to seek new solutions and ways to make our community healthier. We sincerely thank the voters of Maricopa County for their support, and for helping us create a new, vibrant, state-of-the-art public teaching hospital and safety net system of care for all who need us.

Steve Purves is president and CEO of Valleywise Health.

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