The event drew dignitaries from throughout the Phoenix-metro area, including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted.
The 180,000-square-foot future campus at Park Central is drawing broad community support for attracting new health care students and future professionals, steeped in Jesuit ideals, into the fast-growing region. It is slated to be open and ready for classes in the fall of 2021.
“We are honored to play a major role in the dramatic transformation that is about to take place on Arizona’s health care landscape and to be doing so on one of Phoenix’s most iconic properties,” said Creighton University President Fr. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, who started up a construction excavator as part of the celebration.
In addition to Gov. Ducey, Mayor Gallego, Fr. Hendrickson and Bishop Olmsted, the list of speakers included fourth-year medical student Jaclyn Lundberg. Randy Richardson, MD, dean of the Creighton University School of Medicine – Phoenix, served as the emcee.
“The next generation of health professionals will be built right here,” said Gov. Ducey, who lauded the vision for the campus, which is eventually expected to serve nearly 900 Creighton students studying to be physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, and physical and occupational therapists. “It was just about a year ago we came together to announce this project and now it’s already being built.”
Mayor Gallego praised the project for bringing “value-driven education” to the city in needed health care professions. “We have a lot of opportunitiy and need for your graduates,” she told guests. “I am thrilled to be talking about values-driven education and building a healthier Phoenix.”
Bishop Olmsted set a magnificent tone for the event during his remarks, commenting how the Jesuit ideals, woven into the fabric of the new campus, will be one of its strengths.
Guests included leaders of the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance, a strategic partnership established in 2017 that brings together Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health, District Medical Group and Creighton University to administer graduate medical education programs for residents and fellows.
“Today we saw the opportunities that occur when Creighton University enters into a partnership with a city, state, health care partners and the Catholic Church to bring something new to an area,” said Robert “Bo” Dunlay, MD’81, dean of the Creighton University School of Medicine and Creighton Alliance board chair.
For Linda Hunt, chief executive officer for Dignity Health Arizona, which includes St. Joseph’s and four other hospitals, the new campus fulfills a longtime dream for Dignity Health leaders.
“We had a dream years ago to find a Catholic partner that could offer medical education training to students,” she said. “Today, we are realizing that dream for Dignity Health and St. Joseph’s Hospital. This creates a place where students can be educated, with a strong spiritual component.”
The combined resources of Valleywise Health, Dignity Health, District Medical Group and Creighton University will provide access to high-quality teaching environments for Creighton students and medical residents, said Steve Purves, president and CEO of Valleywise Health (formerly Maricopa Integrated Health System).
“We at Valleywise Health are very pleased to be part of this exciting venture, which leverages our vision to be nationally recognized for transforming care to improve community health,” he said. “Our innovative Creighton Alliance will ensure that this health sciences campus and medical school provides exceptional student clinical training experiences, which are second to none.”
Kote Chundu, president and CEO of District Medical Group, was an early proponent of the doctor’s group partnering with a medical school.
“The community support and common goal of helping our community go forward in a positive fashion makes this a great day to celebrate,” he said. “The rest of the process should be easier.”
“Having Creighton here allows student training across the entire continuum of health care education – from undergrad to practicing clinicians,” said Michael White, Valleywise executive vice president and chief medical officer. “That gives us a tremendous opportunity to train them in Jesuit ideals.”
Creighton alumna Sharon Harper, BA’69, who has played a pivotal role as chief executive officer of locally based Plaza Companies, which is working with another developer to redevelop Park Central, described the health sciences campus as “transformational.”
“Bringing Creighton University and the health sciences campus to this place is transformational,” she said. “How Creighton trains heath care professionals is transformational, and bringing partners together this way is also transformational.”
Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, which provided a $10 million gift to the Phoenix health sciences campus, said the celebration of the new campus would have made the late Virginia Piper proud. “We are so excited to support value-centered medical education here in Phoenix,” she said. “I know Virginia is smiling down on this endeavor and is pleased we could support it.”
Richardson recognized the role of students. Creighton medical students started serving clinical rotations at St. Joseph’s dating back to 2005. In 2012, more than 40 Creighton School of Medicine students began serving their third and fourth years at Creighton’s Phoenix campus, which is based at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“This is the culmination of so many people’s efforts, from the program directors, clerkship directors, clinical professionals, faculty and, of course, students,” he said. “I can’t overemphasize the students. They have represented us so well throughout this entire process.” [Source: Creighton University]