Cochise County celebrates grand opening of new hospital

Published: Apr. 11, 2014 at 10:16 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 25, 2014 at 10:16 PM MST
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BISBEE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The new hospital reflects the growth of the services offered and that means more people will be coming here from all over Cochise County.

In fact, the Copper Queen Community Hospital CEO/Administrator Jim Dickson says "We have grown 300 percent in the last four year, and the new ER reflects the increased demand."

Neil and Janet Neil toured the new facility during Friday's grand opening and were impressed.

"For our little town, it's absolutely amazing that we have these facilities available to us," Mrs. Neil says.

If you knew the old Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee you won't believe how it looks now.

The grand opening and tour celebrated the new look that now matches the high-tech services available.

It was a seven-year process to plan the renovation, secure funding and finish construction.

Among the guests at the grand opening was former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was honored for her efforts that secured federal money for the hospital project in the traditionally medically underserved area.

Giffords attended with her husband, Mark Kelly.

"For a rural hospital, I mean it's very impressive. I mean brand new facility, the telemedicine capability that they have," Kelly says.

The CQCH serves people from all over Cochise County.

Using telemedicine, the hospital has access to medical specialists in Tucsoin and Phoenix.

"We are the most full-service rural hospital in this county. We have stroke through Mayo (Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale), cardiology through Carondelet (in Tucson), burn through the Grossman Burn Center and we're now going to be adding pediatrics through the University of Arizona," Dickson says.

With telemedicine improvements, it's expected more patients will be able to stay close to home instead of taking that long ambulance ride to Tucson, 100 miles from Bisbee,.

Neil Neil has take that ride.

"I have to think, with telemedicine, they'll be able to treat me or someone in my condition here rather than having to wait for a hospital room in Tucson and transport," Neil says.

The CQCH's emergency department boasts a seven-minute wait time.  That's enough to draw patients from the larger city of Sierra Vista.

Dickson says there are no private doctors left in Bisbee or Douglas.

He says The CQCH has recruited doctors and created clinics in other towns to help meet the need.

Dr. Peggy Avina has been at the CQCH for 15 years and has seen the evolution of the hospital first hand.

"It provides a level of confidence and comfort for the patients and state-of-the-art equipment, and the environment for the physicians and the staff that work here. It's been a really incredible improvement," she says.

In a time when rural hospitals are struggling to stay open, the CQCH is not only renovating, but expanding by building and operating clinics in other rural towns and cities.

Dickson says telemedicine that links CQCH doctors and patients with medical specialists in Tucson and Phoenix helps keep down costs.

"Where we used to transfer people to Tucson on a regular basis, we no longer have to do that. In our cardiology program we now, in the first seven months, we saved over a million dollars in transportation fees by being able to treat cardiology patients here in the hospital," Dickson says.

He says the hospital will be extending diagnostic services to its clinics around Cochise County.

He says that provides easier access to care in areas where poverty prevents people from being able to afford to travel long distances.

In the meantime, the CQCH is creating programs for preventive care, even including building a walking trail.

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