MARICOPA — A sign promising a “community hospital” in Maricopa created a lot of buzz among residents on Monday, but city officials say there is still a ways to go before it becomes a reality.
The sign for Exceptional Healthcare Community Hospital popped up at Honeycutt Avenue and State Route 347, just south of the railroad overpass. Exceptional Healthcare is a medical provider based in Texas that provides a 24-hour emergency room along with surgeries and lab work. A Maricopa location would be its first outside of Texas.
However, Nathen Steele, the director of economic and community development for the city of Maricopa, said the developer hasn’t actually followed the correct process in this case. The city likes to have a development and site plan for a project before making public announcements. The city has received no such plans, meaning there are no specifics about how big the building would be or what anything would look like.
In fact, Steele said, there hasn’t even been a sign permit issued for that property, meaning the announcement itself goes against the proper process.
PinalCentral has reached out to Exceptional Healthcare about its plans but has not received a response as of yet.
Mayor Christian Price expressed his excitement about the prospects of the business coming to Maricopa but wanted to tamp down any expectations about what this would be or when it would happen. In addition to delays as the proper process is followed, Price said if it does happen it won’t be a full-scale hospital like people might be used to with Banner medical centers.
“They’re calling themselves a community hospital, and maybe that’s what they intend to be someday, but they’re never going to be like a Banner,” Price told PinalCentral. “They’re filling a different need.”
But Price knows the significance of having a 24/7 medical facility in Maricopa. He said it might not be everything residents want it to be, but neither was Dignity Health Urgent Care when it came to the city, yet it’s helped a lot. Further, it could cause a long-term effect with other businesses following in its footsteps to provide a variety of health care options — and that could include a full-fledged hospital.
He compared it to the hotel industry, where nobody wanted to build one in Maricopa until one did, then multiple others followed.
"I don't think you can be a fully functional city without having a medical aspect to it, because you have people here with medical needs," Price said. "So yes, we definitely need a hospital. And if this fills the bill until a hospital is ready to come, then so be it."