Phoenix's healthcare system is under strain because of a population boom, despite significant hospital construction, according to a report by the Center for Studying Health System Change. An unabated influx of job seekers, retirees and undocumented immigrants over the past two years has contributed to frequent ambulance diversions, treatment delays and trouble securing on-call specialists at area hospitals, the report said. Emergency medical technicians reportedly wait up to three hours to drop off patients at downtown hospitals, and wait times at emergency rooms throughout Phoenix average six hours. To ease the capacity crunch, local healthcare systems have been expanding existing facilities and building new hospitals in outlying areas. Market leader Banner Health recently opened 172-bed Estrella Medical Center in Phoenix and is adding beds at four other hospitals in Glendale, Mesa and Phoenix. Scottsdale Healthcare and Catholic Healthcare West also recently completed major expansion projects. Researchers said they expect the market to remain under-bedded for at least two more years despite the construction. Read the report. -- by Laura B. Benko
Phoenix hospitals struggle to handle population boom
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