Northern Arizona Healthcare – Major Expansion
Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) is committed to delivering high-quality health care close to home for the patients and communities we have the honor to serve. For more than 50 years, we have focused on improving health and healing people, and our plan is to provide exceptional care for generations to come.
The full project is referred to as the NAH Health and Wellness Village. This significant investment in necessary improvements and expansions of our health care services will ensure NAH can best serve the growing communities throughout northern Arizona.
Why we need a new hospital – Phase 1
The plan is split into two phases. Phase 1, the hospital, ambulatory (or outpatient) care center, parking and open space has been approved by the Flagstaff City Council after a two-year review process. This is the only phase that was approved. It is now awaiting approval from Flagstaff voters in a referendum process.
Flagstaff Medical Center has served the northern Arizona community well over the past five decades. However, it is nearing the end of its lifecycle and the end of its ability to continue to grow to serve the growing population of northern Arizona. We cannot continue to renovate the building any longer.
Beyond the lack of future expansion opportunity at FMC, we’ve already outgrown our current location. For example, NAH deferred more than 5,600 patients in 2022 to other hospitals outside of northern Arizona because we do not have the space needed to accommodate the increasing number of patients within the communities we serve. Many of those patients (55%) are from health care providers on tribal lands that rely on NAH and other health care systems for more specialized care not available in tribal communities.
Moving forward with a new hospital and ambulatory care center means we will be able to meet or exceed modern health care standards, equip health care providers with the latest technology, and provide the best possible experience to patients and their families.
Our plan will feature hospital-based health care, outpatient surgery, imaging, rehabilitation and clinic spaces all on one site – providing improved, more fully integrated care for our patients. With a focus on the holistic well-being of our community, the future development also will serve as a community gathering spot with amenities such as new housing, dining, retail, grocery, lodging and a 22-acre natural retreat with trails integrated with Flagstaff’s existing trail system (FUTS).
Building out the Health and Wellness Village – Phase 2
Phase 2, which has not been subject to formal public hearings or City Council consideration, is a larger medical and health care services campus that we hope to include housing, a hotel, restaurants, medical research, additional medical offices and more.
We believe the proposed Health and Wellness Village will benefit Flagstaff and the growing northern Arizona region by delivering the high-quality health care services our patients and communities need. This phase includes plans for a hotel and housing, medical research, other medical offices and more. It will make the campus a state-of-the-art hub for medical innovation, high-quality health care delivery and central emergency medical services for the entire region.
We’re honored to say that our proposal is supported by notable organizations and well-respected leaders such as Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona Medical Association, Arizona Nurses Association, Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association, Arizona Public Health Association and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.
Commitment to Community Engagement
We have held hundreds of community meetings, and we are committed to continue engaging community members, neighbors, and others in discussions about our vision for the future of health care services in Flagstaff and northern Arizona. The redevelopment of the current campus will be the next phase of community outreach and inclusion for NAH.
Please send your questions about the project to [email protected].
Please review the most frequently asked questions about the new hospital (Phase 1):
Why can’t you just renovate the existing hospital?
Over the last few decades, the hospital has already been renovated and expanded as much as possible.
The only space left to expand is to go up, which means tearing down entire structures and creating much taller buildings. It would mean the temporary closure of Beaver Street, and could mean a permanent closure of Beaver that would force more traffic onto Forest. It would mean fewer parking spaces, and years of noisy construction, dust, and traffic congestion.
Entire sections of the hospital would have to be closed for years on end to allow for the decade of new construction and remodels to take place. Critical services would be curtailed and there would be far fewer patient beds.
As a facility that is already short on space, and overwhelmed by patients, making the situation even worse is not in the best interests of NAH or the community.
Additionally, population projections show the entire northern Arizona regional population is expected to double by 2050. This growth is largely outside of Flagstaff city limits, and we can better serve that growth by relocating near I-17 and I-40.
What will happen to Flagstaff Medical Center?
It will not be abandoned. We are committed to working with the community and the City of Flagstaff in planning the best use of the site. We’ve been listening to ideas and it is clear thee community’s preference includes more affordable housing, senior living facilities and workforce development opportunities. We look forward to building consensus on future plans for the property.
Who is paying for the new hospital?
It is 100% privately funded. Northern Arizona Healthcare will be paying for ALL the costs associated with building the new hospital. We are paying for nearby road improvements and other infrastructure, which is not typical of developers in the city of Flagstaff. In addition, there are no new taxes or fees for Flagstaff taxpayers.
Where will the new hospital be located?
The site location for the new hospital will be built on private land in the south part of the city where the I-17 and I-40 meet, north of Fort Tuthill County Park.
What impact will construction have on the environment and open spaces?
The new hospital will be built with sustainability as its guiding star.
For example, compared to the existing hospital, the carbon footprint will be reduced by 4,000 metric tons per year. Water consumption will be cut by 22 million gallons per year.
The project will be partially powered by solar panels and will include electric vehicle charging stations.
Additionally, we have partnered with other organizations to fund renewable energy projects.
With a larger, better-equipped emergency medical center, the number of patients that have to drive or be airlifted to Phoenix or Las Vegas will be reduced dramatically. This not only can save lives, but it also helps reduce the carbon emissions from unnecessary automobile trips and helicopter flights to destinations hundreds of miles from Flagstaff.
The hospital will connect with the Flagstaff Urban Trail system through a public, natural recreation area on the hospital property that will be comparable in size to Foxglenn Park.
How long has this idea been proposed?
The new hospital has been formally under consideration by the city of Flagstaff for over two years. During that time, we worked with city planners, the city council, community organizers and other interested parties to determine the best fit for the community.
Countless hours were spent in the planning stages, not to mention hundreds of public meetings where the community could address their concerns.
Every idea was taken into consideration many aspects of the proposal were changed as a result of hearing the public’s preferences and expectations. In the end, the city council reviewed all the changes after listening to many hours of public comment and approved it 6-0.
What will be the economic impact?
The new hospital would generate nearly $250 million in economic impact for the city of Flagstaff alone. Furthermore, the project would boost tax revenue for the city by nearly $4 million annually to help fund important programs throughout the city. These numbers were calculated by an independent economic analysis firm as part of the studies the city of Flagstaff required in its review and ultimate approval of this project.
Additional Q&A about the full proposal:
Has the Health and Wellness Village already been approved?
- A referendum will appear on the Nov. 7, 2023 ballot for voters who live in the city of Flagstaff to decide whether to uphold the Flagstaff City Council’s rezoning decision.
- The Flagstaff City Council voted 6-0 to approve the rezoning request and a Development Agreement with NAH on June 6, 2023. The approvals followed a two-part public hearing on May 2 and May 16 to allow for robust discussion and community input and to address council members’ questions.
- NAH has been actively engaged with the city since the submission of our proposal in early 2021. We also have hosted numerous meetings with community groups, HOAs, businesses, and local, regional and state agencies on a regular basis.
- The Flagstaff City Council’s review followed public meetings hosted by the Planning & Zoning Commission on March 22, April 12 and April 19. While commissioners said they largely supported the value of a new hospital and the health care benefits it will bring to Flagstaff and the region, the commission’s vote was split and it did not recommend the proposal. Some commissioners said their votes were intended to highlight requests that City Council take into consideration commissioners’ questions about future funding needs for public transportation, fire department and infrastructure improvements as well as the impact the future campus may have in meeting the city’s sustainability goals.
- In November 2022, the Flagstaff Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously (7-0) in favor of the necessary minor regional plan amendments. On Dec. 6, 2022, the City Council voted 5-1 in favor the regional plan amendments. These approvals were needed to move forward with consideration of the proposed hospital and ambulatory care center.
Will there be an expansion of existing services or the introduction of new ones in conjunction with new construction?
- Our NAH Health and Wellness Village will bring the highest-quality medical services to Flagstaff and northern Arizona. It will include state-of-the-art facilities, private, suite-style patient rooms, an expanded emergency department with faster service, and more.
- Patients will have access to expanded clinical options such as more comprehensive oncology services, expanded therapy and rehabilitation, a wound-healing program with hyperbaric chambers, and convenient outpatient imaging.
Will some services or care currently being offered by NAH be stopped or canceled?
- Our plans for the Health and Wellness Village are built on the opportunity to expand our heath care offerings, including providing more comprehensive oncology services, expanded therapy and rehabilitation, a wound-healing program with hyperbaric chambers, and convenient outpatient imaging.
How will the patient population change over time? Will new construction be flexible enough to respond to this evolution?
- The Maricopa Association of Governments projects northern Arizona will double in population by the year 2050. NAH must grow in order to serve the growing population.
- We know northern Arizona will continue to attract new residents of all ages, but people in Arizona specifically are leading longer lives and experiencing age-related health complications.
- We are designing our new hospital and Health and Wellness Village so that we can adapt our facilities to evolving health care needs of the community and ensure our colleagues continue to provide high-quality care to their patients.
- The new facilities will provide us the flexibility needed to accommodate emerging health care technologies as well mechanical systems that have the capacity to handle any future pandemic-related issues as we saw in 2020.
- In addition, the hospital’s design will allow for an increased bed count under one roof and centralized in-patient treatment.
- Patient care areas will be designed to ensure optimal nurse-to-patient ratios and improve patient experiences.
- Nurses and doctors will have more space to store equipment and supplies critical to their work delivering exceptional care.
- The new ambulatory care clinic will create a one-stop-shop for outpatient care including outpatient imaging, surgery and multi-specialty physician care.
How does the new construction in Flagstaff fit with what is happening at NAH’s other campuses?
- The proposed Health and Wellness Village in Flagstaff is part of a comprehensive plan to continuously improve care for our patients throughout northern Arizona now and for generations to come.
- Other examples of commitment to the Verde Valley, Cottonwood and Sedona areas are updates to the Verde Valley Medical Clinic – Camp Verde, a new Cottonwood Medical Office Building in 2019, and continued focus and expansion of programs in breast health and cancer care in Sedona.
- Future plans may also include a new ambulatory surgery center in Cottonwood and continued improvements and facility enhancements at Verde Valley Medical Center.
Is the Health and Wellness Village one phase of a multi-phase program?
- The proposed new hospital campus, ambulatory care center and ultimately the Health and Wellness Village, will be developed in multiple phases between 2023 and 2045 – pending necessary approvals from the City of Flagstaff.
- The first phase will include the heart of the development: a new hospital and ambulatory care center. The ambulatory care center is proposed to open in 2025 with the hospital opening in 2027.
- Phase Two (2025-2030) will feature housing, a hotel, restaurants, retail and more. Phase Three (2027-2035) will include clinical partnerships. The final phase (2030-2040) is proposed to include an incubator space along with research and development facilities.
Will this hospital replace the current Flagstaff Medical Center?
- Yes. The proposed Health and Wellness Village, anchored by the new hospital and ambulatory care center, will be the primary location for our ambulatory and in-patient care facilities and other related services offered by NAH in Flagstaff.
What will happen to the existing Flagstaff Medical Center campus?
- NAH has committed to the Flagstaff City Council that it will continue to engage with the Flagstaff community to determine the best redevelopment plan for FMC. We know the community is looking for opportunities to address shortages in affordable housing, senior living and workforce development.
- NAH will hire a third-party consultant, PUMA, to guide a public visioning process for the redevelopment of FMC. PUMA currently is working with the City of Flagstaff on other development and planning projects and previously worked on the Flagstaff downtown plan.
- We anticipate future development of the existing campus will begin in 2028. While it is too early in the process to know what redevelopment will look like, we have established a redevelopment council that includes civic and community leaders, and other stakeholders.
How does this affect economic development and growth in Flagstaff?
- Upon full buildout, it is estimated the Health and Wellness Village will generate an additional $387 million/year in economic benefit for Flagstaff and northern Arizona over and above the existing Flagstaff Medical Center.
- In addition to the economic benefits, it is estimated that the project will generate $6.7 million in construction-related taxes and $1.5 million in annual taxes paid to the City of Flagstaff.
- The focus on creating new facilities and services that will bring the next generation of health care to Flagstaff will create new jobs and careers – keeping local talent close to home and attracting new residents who can build their future here.
- The new Health and Wellness Village also will generate new jobs and revenue through the construction phases over the course of five years and create opportunities for local and national businesses that support healthy lifestyles to open locations in Flagstaff.
- A full, independent economic development analysis has been submitted to the City of Flagstaff as part of our approval process.
How much is the anticipated cost of this project and how is it being funded?
- The current budget for the hospital and ambulatory center is more than $800 million, funded entirely through private funds by NAH. This is inclusive of the building itself, site work that relates to the hospital campus as well as equipment, design costs and permitting.
- NAH will fund the development of the new campus through our own budget and funding sources. NAH will not be seeking community funding through the City of Flagstaff or other similar measures.
- Additionally, NAH has agreed to several commitments that will improve the city’s infrastructure and other public amenities and services. These commitments include:
- An estimated $4.5 million contribution that is inclusive of paying 50% of capital costs related to relocating Fire Station #6 and required fire and police impact fees which are assessed to all new developments.
- NAH will provide a shuttle service at no cost to passengers from nearby Mountain Line stop(s) to the hospital until the public transit line is extended to the new campus at an estimated operation cost of $250,000 per year.
- More than $7 million for on-site transportation improvements. The realignment of Purple Sage Road, construction of the east portion of Woody Mountain Road, grading of Beulah Boulevard and Purple Sage Road are a part of those improvements.
- An estimated $45 million for off-site transportation improvements. Those projects include widening Beulah Boulevard to a 4-lane, raised median street, realignment of Mountain Dell Road, construction of a roundabout on the east side of the I-17 and JW Powell Bridge and improving eight additional intersections along Beulah Boulevard.
- An estimated $2 million will be spent to construct a water storage tank that benefits the community.
- A 16-inch waterline loop will be extended at an estimated cost of $2 million.
- NAH is committed to paying approximately $200,000 for a third-party consultant, PUMA, to guide a public visioning process for the redevelopment of FMC. PUMA currently is working with the City of Flagstaff on other development and planning projects.
Are there any other anticipated costs or taxes that residents and the community as a whole should expect to take on as a result of this initiative?
- We do not anticipate that it will impact taxes or property values negatively.
- We have carefully considered how to move forward with the development of the new hospital and ambulatory services, along with the other amenities and facilities planned for the village without financially impacting the community.
- Please see the above question about the anticipated cost of the project and how it’s being funded for more information.
What is the environmental impact?
- NAH plans to develop our land in an environmentally respectful manner.
- This is evidenced by our continued coordination with the county parks department to ensure proper coordination with the FUTS trails, submission of the application of our heritage preservation commission application as well as partnerships with groups such as GFFP (Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership) with whom we are already working to ensure the forest is treated in a healthy fashion that supports fire prevention.
- With forest preservation in mind, our site plan calls for only 40% of the overall land to be developed, and 30% of the site will remain undisturbed forest.
- In addition to being respectful of the land around us, this new development also gives us the opportunity to design and build a more energy-efficient health care setting than the current FMC.
- While we will be able to offer more care and more services, our proposed hospital and ACC will reduce our energy consumption by up to 45% when compared to the current hospital.
- NAH remains committed to sustainability efforts and we plan to develop the site in ways that will reduce our environmental impact – especially in comparison to our current FMC campus. Our sustainability efforts at the proposed future campus include:
- Installing photo-voltaic panels by 2030 on the parking garage to increase our use of solar energy.
- Reducing water consumption by 22 million gallons per year.
- Reducing use of natural gas by 78%.
- Reducing our use of steel by 40,000 pounds through innovative design and construction options, which will reduce CO2 generation by more than 4,000 metric tons.
- A reduction of more than 1,330 metric tons of CO2 emissions between water use reductions and avoided deferrals by helicopter.
- Using the vegetation, rocks and soil moved during construction in landscaping, including using trees to build benches and using native limestone for retaining walls and natural, decorative landscaping.
- Additionally, the future hospital and ACC will be able to serve more patients, reducing travel to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Albuquerque by approximately 50% or more compared to current care levels.
What if there is a long delay in securing other business use for the Flagstaff Medical Center campus?
- Discussions are underway about the future use of the existing Flagstaff Medical Center, and we anticipate future development of the existing campus will begin in 2028.
Are there any notable organizations that support the Health and Wellness Village?
- Yes. Over the past year, we’ve met with numerous organizations and individuals to share our plans to develop the Health and Wellness Village. The following notable organizations and respected individuals have confirmed their support: AHCCS, Arizona Medical Association, Arizona Nurses Association, Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Public Health Association, Flagstaff Unified School District, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, and U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
How will this move affect EMS response times?
- EMS response times will not be impacted by the relocation of the hospital, as Guardian Medical Transport has four stations throughout the area where ambulances are dispatched, if not already out in the field.
- The majority of patients being transported could experience shorter transport times (between where they are picked up and the hospital) as the result of the new campus being close to the intersection of the two major interstate highways.
- Transport of patients from the northern and northwestern areas of Flagstaff may have longer transport times. However, the patient is receiving quality care during transport.
- Additionally, proposed roadways and roadway improvements (according to the City’s regional plan) will continue to decrease transport times to the new location.
Will there be a helipad at the new hospital and, if so, will it interfere with the airport?
- We will have a helipad at the new facility. We are coordinating the work with the Airport Commission and will file all necessary applications with the FAA to ensure proper safety.
- Guardian Air Transport helicopters are based at the Flagstaff airport, and every flight to the hospital begins and ends at the airport, so the new hospital will not add additional flights near the airport.
How is this going to affect traffic?
- We anticipate the new facility will improve the flow of traffic in downtown Flagstaff.
- For example, the location for the new Health and Wellness Village will reduce the number of emergency vehicles that must travel through Flagstaff’s downtown area.
- NAH remains committed to working with city traffic engineers, ADOT and Mountain Line to accommodate traffic changes this development will bring.
- We also continue to work with our EMS partners to ensure we have safe travel times to our new location for emergency services.
Will this increase NAH’s costs of care to patients?
- The Health and Wellness Village will benefit our patients by allowing us to deliver comprehensive, high-quality health care close to home. Building the new facilities will not directly impact health care costs.
- This is a budget-neutral development plan and will be funded through a variety of mechanisms, including capital investment and the work of NAH’s Office of Philanthropy, which is tasked with fundraising initiatives.
Are there any anticipated challenges or opportunities for the landscape or environment related to the new construction?
- As we develop the new Health and Wellness Village, we are keeping in mind the important role nature plays in improving health and wellbeing, and we are taking into consideration the surrounding environment.
- Our goal is to create a gathering place for the community that is integrated with the natural environment. This will include building new nature trails that will be integrated with Flagstaff’s existing trail system to make the area more accessible to the entire community. We also are planning our designs and construction to minimize the impact on the area.
What external factors (like adjacent property development or public transportation options) will impact the way the facility evolves?
- We are confident the proposed location will help us improve the accessibility of health care for the northern Arizona region.
- For example, the new location will be easier to access for our patients and their families, who often must navigate downtown roads and traffic that do not easily accommodate the volume of traffic the current FMC creates.
- As planning continues, we will work with the City of Flagstaff and others to address questions and concerns, and to take into consideration recommendations for how the Health and Wellness Village can serve the needs of our community.
Is this a second business district that is going to take away from the current downtown?
- We believe the Health and Wellness Village’s future offerings will complement and expand the unique offerings of downtown Flagstaff and provide new amenities that improve the overall quality of life.
- We also believe that the new Health and Wellness Village will provide practical improvements such as reducing the number of emergency vehicles that must travel through the downtown area – making the downtown area more enjoyable for residents and visitors alike.
Proposed Health and Wellness Village
We believe NAH’s proposal will bring substantial benefits to the patients and communities we’re honored to serve, and we welcome your questions about our proposed Health and Wellness Village.