Bringing Health to Downtown

By Mary Minor Davis – 

Healthcare Leaders Tucson Medical Center & El Rio Community Health Center Join Forces

Downtown Tucson will be another step closer to having all the necessary services a resident or worker needs right in the neighborhood through a collaboration between two local leaders in the healthcare industry – Tucson Medical Center and El Rio Community Health Center.

The two organizations are joining forces to create HealthOn Tucson, a new, innovative, integrated health and wellness nonprofit collaboration. The group’s first healthcare facility, HealthOn Broadway, will open in January 2017, serving both residential and workforce populations in the downtown area.

Both community health systems focus on improving the health and well-being of the community, said Julia Strange, VP of Community Benefits at TMC. “Coming together, we really are seeking to blend our two missions to create a unique, innovative approach to caring for patients – and in the case of our first location, we expect our patient base will be people who live and/or work downtown.”

The healthcare facility adds to a resurgence of downtown that has seen multiple residential developments accompanied by restaurants and retail take root. A grocery store, Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market, now serves those residents. And a new hotel, the AC Marriott, is nearing completion.

The facility will be in leased space on the first floor of the six-story One West building at 1 W. Broadway. It will provide state-of-the-art primary care, telehealth, health education and wellness coaching. It also will be accessible from the streetcar and staffed to handle 7,000 patients a year. BWS Architects is the designer of the HealthOn Broadway facility. Caylor Design & Construction is the builder of One West.

“We have spent a lot of time talking to people who live and work downtown to see what kind of healthcare services they need and want, how we can support employers with their health and wellness programming and more,” Strange said. “Because we both have experience in creating new medical models, the hardest part was finding the right location. We wanted a space that would build on that momentum and allow us to better serve downtown employees and residents, so we’re really excited about this location and our larger collaboration.”

Nancy Johnson, CEO of El Rio, agreed. “We are transforming how primary care should be delivered through patient experience, innovation, efficiency and clinical outcomes,” she said. “TMC and El Rio are committed to creating a unique, integrated healthcare model, which has not yet been seen in Tucson.”

Both El Rio and TMC are expanding their presence in the downtown area. El Rio has operated a clinic on Congress west of I-10 for years, and recently moved its administrative offices to the Manning House on the east side of the freeway. TMC has sponsored Meet Me at Maynards almost since it began, and started a healthy-eating program with Chef Janos Wilder at the Carriage House in May 2016.

TMC has been working with the City of Tucson and Pima County on the needs of their employees and having a downtown healthcare option. “Our community is telling us that they want to access healthcare where they live and where they work,” said Judy Rich, president and CEO of TMC HealthCare. “And it just made sense to partner with our colleagues at El Rio Health to bring this innovative concept to downtown Tucson.”

In addition to traditional treatment rooms, Strange said the center will offer “dialogue rooms” to provide informal space for health coaching, education and prevention techniques to help people take control of their health. “What we’ve found is that patients have to be active partners in their care, and engaged in their own health, to really get the great outcomes everyone wants.”

Strange said they have been talking to employers, residents and other stakeholders for months to determine the greatest healthcare needs for the downtown market. As a result, they are anticipating two tracks of patients that will be served by the center.

“There are some patients who will make HealthOn their medical home, where they will come for primary care,” she said. “There also will be other patients who already have a great relationship with their primary care provider but they have an urgent care kind of need, and want to duck over from work to have their throat looked at, for example.

“We built this concept around supporting local business and employees as well as responding to the needs of those folks in new residential developments, student housing and senior housing downtown.”

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