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Eastside population boom creates need for healthcare services

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TUCSON (KVOA) -The population on Tucson's southeast side is booming. But the burgeoning population is creating a need for essential medical services. For many people in the growing area, the closest hospital was a 30 minute drive away.

"We see the growth that is happening on the eastside of Tucson so there's definitely a need," said Denzil Ross, CEO of Northwest Medical Center Houghton.

Northwest Medical Center opened its newest hospital 10 days ago at Houghton and Old Spanish Trail. The 52 bed facility also includes labor and delivery, ICU and an Emergency Department. The hospital is also a Level 3 trauma service.

Ross said Northwest is licensed for 145 beds, which will leave room to grow. He expects the hospital will be building on the campus for the next three to five years.

Northwest is not the only hospital seeing opportunity on the eastside. Tucson Medical Center is also working on their 50 bed Rincon Neighborhood Hospital at Houghton and Drexel, expected to open at the end of 2023. "We know where our patients come from who are admitted to TMC. And we know what zip codes they're in and we can see the growth in Vail and all the neighborhoods in that southeast area," said TMC Health President and CEO , Judy Rich.

The planned hospital will offer obstetrics, as well as general surgery, neurology, gastroenterology, pulmonology.  "All of the basic medical and basic surgical services that you would expect at an acute care hospital," she said.

The population boom has also affected Rincon Valley Fire District.

"It has a huge impact on us. we've seen a 18% growth in our housing .We've seen a 23% increase in our call volume," said Rincon Valley Fire Chief, Jayme Kahle.

Rincon Valley has two ambulances in service 24/7, with plans to add another this fall. They also added three new firefighters last year and anticipate hiring more.

Chief Kahle says the new eastside hospitals will drastically reduce the average turnaround times, by as much as an hour. Kahle said, "Right now when we go on a call it takes about two hours and 21 minutes."

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