Phoenix Alliance Moves Forward

A lot has happened in Phoenix since the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance was launched in September 2017. And there is more to be done between now and the opening of the new building in the summer of 2021.

Goal stewards Dale Davenport, senior associate dean for administration in the School of Medicine, and Nursing Dean Catherine Todero, Phd, RN, led attendees Monday at the Arizona Health Education Alliance and Campus Vision forum through the updates at the Phoenix campus.

The Arizona Health Education Alliance is made up of four entities: Creighton University, Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, District Medical Group, Inc. and Maricopa Integrated Health Systems — which will change its name to Valleywise Health mid 2019.

Formally established in 2017, the Alliance provides a centralized focus on Graduate Medical Education (GME), with the goal of increasing the number of highly trained health professionals who practice in Arizona. It offers expanded academic and clinical education programs in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health.

The site for the new building in Phoenix was announced in September. The expansion will include a four-year medical school, nursing school, occupational and physical therapy schools, pharmacy school, physician assistant school and emergency medical services program.

Now that the site plan is completed, plans are moving forward with the construction of the new 200,000-square-foot building, which will eventually serve nearly 800 Creighton health sciences students.

Located in what was once Phoenix’s bustling outdoor market, the site has retail and coffee shops in the area that should appeal to professional students, Davenport says. A light rail system that runs in front of the property will make it easy for students to get to campus.

The University is partnering with a developer, Plaza Companies, that is redeveloping the Park Central Mall with the Holualoa Companies and constructing the building on the University’s behalf. There is the potential to expand the project in a second phase with an additional building.

The architects for the project are RDG, a local Omaha firm, and Butler Design Group, the local Phoenix architect firm of record.

“RDG has done most of (Creighton’s) health sciences interiors and the dental school, so we’re going to be able to use a lot of what they have already done in designing the new facility,” Davenport says. “It will be much more efficient than having to start that design all over again.”

The design of the building includes seven floors, with the main floor open to the community.

“It’s kind of envisioned what happens when you walk into the Harper Center,” Todero says. “The major thing in this particular area is there would be a community room. How big it will be is still being discussed — we’re hoping it will seat about 300, very much like the ballroom in Harper.”

Todero says the space could be used for large interprofessional educational opportunities, but it would also allow the community to come in for some continuing health sciences education.

“Finding that kind of space in Phoenix is a challenge, so our partners are very excited about this prospect,” Todero says.

The upper floors in the project would be more secure, including an entire floor dedicated to simulation activities, as well as faculty offices and an anatomy lab.

The building is scheduled to be done in the fall of 2020 for the University to outfit, with the first students using the building in the summer of 2021.

Operations and program planning are under development, committees are forming, and charters are written for the various committees. The alliance is looking to hire a project manager to help with the various aspects of the project to keep it moving forward.

A site visit from the Higher Learning Commission is planned for 2019.

The School of Pharmacy and Health Professions has already signed articulation agreements with Arizona State University, so they can market to and recruit students from there. SPAHP has also notified its accrediting body of its intent to open a distance campus.

The physical therapy program is seeking a chair to develop the Arizona program and its pedagogical approach. The occupational therapy program will be a hybrid, very similar to the Alaska and Regis programs. EMS is getting a slower start as leaders are working to understand the landscape in the Phoenix area and what programs are needed.

Nursing is graduating its first Phoenix-based accelerated nursing class in December. Numbers for the second cohort are above expectations with a class of 46 students, and possibly 48, entering in January. Because of the larger-than-expected enrollment, nursing will be moving to a new location that will be renovated and leased for the next three years.

Creighton is one of four partners in the Arizona Health Education Alliance, and Davenport says it is important for Creighton and the alliance to share leadership. On Nov. 1 it was announced that Jacqueline Chadwick, MD, would be the inaugural vice provost for the Creighton University Health Sciences Phoenix Regional Campus. Chadwick will continue in her role as executive director of the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance.