By Don Kirkland
A short-term delay in Chandler Regional Medical
Center’s planned launch of the East Valley’s first
Level I trauma center has neither dampened the
hospital’s confidence in the need for such a facility
nor its desire to keep pace with the opportunities
inherent in a dynamically growing community.
Hospital officials say they will put off formal
opening of the new Level I center until next Spring,
based on their commitment to ensure that the
coming influx of winter visitors can be assured of
adequate, timely care.
Hospital resources tend to be more widely
needed in the winter, causing potential delays in the
availability of care during those months.
“We’d rather do this right than just do it
quickly,” said Tim Bricker, president and CEO of
both Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert medical
centers, part of the Dignity Health family of
Bricker, who has guided development of Chandler
Regional’s trauma services in addition to its dayto-
day operation for the past 2½ years , says the
delay also was agreed upon when the recruitment of
highly specialized staff, including a medical director,
stretched out longer than anticipated.
Dr. Forrest Moore will move into the director’s
position in mid-August, and other staff already are
on board and being trained, Bricker said.
Although some have questioned the need for a
trauma center in the East Valley—the closest Level
I facility exists at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborne—
Bricker insists that both he and others agree on its
“It is very clear to us that there’s a great big hole
in the availability of trauma centers (in the Southeast
Valley).” And that, he says, puts critically ill patients
at greater risk during the so-called “golden hour,”
when every minute counts in the battle between life
“What it means,” says Bricker, “is that the faster
you can get to appropriate care within an hour, the
greater your chances of survival.”
As for a critically ill patient in Queen Creek
or another one of the East Valley’s far flung
communities, many of which are served by Chandler
Regional, Bricker said:
“It’s very unlikely you’re going to make it (to
another Level I facility) in that one hour.”
In addition to delaying a patient’s arrival at an
appropriate treatment destination, the increased
transport time also takes first responders longer to
respond to another call for urgent care, said Bricker.
“In my mind, the predominant factor in this
discussion is community need, and that people can
get care fast,” he said. “It’s the right thing for the
community; it saves lives.”
While Bricker has been on the job in Chandler
less than three years, he’s no newcomer to hospital
management or the inner workings of trauma
facilities. He oversaw medical centers in Oregon and
Utah for more than a decade, including hospitals
with trauma capabilities that already were fully
As planning for Chandler Regional’s latest growth
has taken place under his tutelage, Bricker says he’s
become much more aware of how it differs from
other hospitals he’s visited.
Here, he says, the strength of hospital-physician
relationships appears to be much more evident than
many places elsewhere.
Nor is that situation hard to explain, says Bricker.
“There are challenging economic political situations
(affecting hospitals) around the country, and they
can create a lot of tension with the doctors,” he said.
“Chandler has a much more collaborative (medical)
community, and that results in a higher quality of
care for the patient, as well as a safer environment.”
As to what lies ahead, Bricker sees the hospital’s
trauma capability being only one step toward a more
technology-rich future, enhanced by the growing
partnership with a multitude of scientifically focused
“One of our Advisory Board members is an
Orbital executive. Having him on the board, we’re
able to discuss issues we both face in a high-tech,
high-risk environment,” Bricker said.
“We have something in common, and we’re able
to learn from each other.”