By Jason Stone, Staff Writer

Dignity Health is eager to show off its new hospital in east Mesa.

Now if it could just get the word out that it’s fully open.

“Some people have come in and said, ‘We didn’t know you were open yet,’” said Jane Hanson, president and CEO of the new Arizona General Hospital Mesa Campus on Elliot Road just off the Loop 202.

It’s been slow at first, but Hanson said the word is finally getting out. That’s good news for a rapidly growing East Valley, which needs more medical care options in the region.

Dignity Health opened the doors for the new Mesa campus at 9130 E. Elliot Road on Nov. 12, right around the same time it broke ground on a new medical facility for women and children at the existing Mercy Gilbert Medical Center about 12 miles southwest down the Loop 202.

The new facilities will add more critical health care options for East Valley residents without having to go far for full hospital services – not to mention creating hundreds of jobs.

The new Mesa campus includes 50 inpatient beds, two state-of-the-art operating rooms, an emergency department, a high-complexity laboratory and a full radiology suite equipped with the latest technologies.

“I would call this a small, community hospital,” Hanson said, adding that should result in lower costs for patients, who will still have full access to Dignity Heath’s networks of physicians and specialists.

Plus, Hanson said, wait times will be shorter in the ER, compared to the marathon sessions awaiting patients at most 400- or 500-bed hospitals in many big cities.

“This is a great project for that part of the city,” said Mesa Economic Development Director Bill Jabjiniak. “Any time that you’re growing at the pace the city of Mesa is growing at, hospital needs will be greater.”

Small community medical centers and so-called “micro-hospitals” are the latest trends for smaller neighborhood areas. They’re small-scale inpatient facilities – up to three stories – built on 20,000- to 50,000-square foot spaces. Micro hospitals are ones with 25 beds or less.

“Insurance companies are not paying for you to stay overnight anymore,” Jabjiniak said. “It’s a great example of a health care provider adapting to today’s environment.”

Hanson said the Mesa campus started operations with about 100 employees, but that’ll jack up to 400 to 500 workers once all four operating rooms are up and running.

The site of the hospital was long-planned for a medical center, but a bankruptcy case kept it vacant for years. The new hospital should help ease the needs for residents in the Eastmark master-planned community.

“It’s right along an area that’s growing,” Jabjiniak said. “Eastmark is the fastest-growing master-planned community in Arizona and fifth or sixth in the nation. There’s just a lot of growth in the Southeast Valley.”

Gilbert is feeling that growth as well with the start of construction of the auxiliary to the Mercy Gilbert Medical Center at 3555 S. Val Vista Drive.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital spokeswoman Erica Sturwold said the five-story, nearly 374,000-square-foot “Women’s and Children’s Pavilion” will offer a 60-bed Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). That’s currently only available at PCH’s main campus near downtown Phoenix.

“This is the first time we will be offering that level of neo-natal care to the Gilbert area,” Sturwold said. “That’s an exciting thing to add.”

The “Women’s and Children’s Pavilion” will also include 24 labor and delivery rooms and 48 post-partum beds, which the hospital will operate. Plans also call for an emergency department dedicated to obstetrics.

Sturwold said Dignity Health is paying for the addition to the hospital, while PCH is leasing space from the women’s and children’s clinic. Hanson called the agreement with Phoenix Children’s Hospital “long-term,” but neither side has released specific details.

In addition to the NICU unit, Phoenix Children’s Hospital plans to operate 48 pediatric beds, a 12-bed pediatric emergency department and pediatric operating rooms.

“Since we first brought our strengths together, Phoenix Children’s and Dignity Health have become a tremendous force in the care of children and women in this country,” Linda Hunt, president and CEO of the Dignity Health Arizona Service Area, said in a statement. “This pavilion … will mean better care for families in this rapidly growing part of the greater Phoenix area.”

Work is expected to be completed by 2020. When it opens, it should bring an additional 400 jobs to the East Valley, said Dignity spokeswoman Carmelle Malkovich.

In addition to the Mesa and Gilbert hospitals, the Dignity Health, Arizona Service Area includes four others: Chandler Regional Medical Center; St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, which includes Barrow Neurological Institute; St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center and Arizona General Hospital Laveen Campus.

For information about the hospital, log on to AZgeneral.com. For information about Dignity Health, visit DignityHealth.org/Arizona.