Tower Power: Celebrating the New Banner University Medical Center - Tucson

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

It’s not every day you witness the opening of a brand-new hospital tower. It’s especially not every day you witness the opening of the largest hospital tower a medical group has built to date.

Yet that’s what the surgeons, advanced practice providers (APPs), residents, fellows, staff, and students of the University of Arizona Department of Surgery had the good fortune of experiencing this past month. Spanning more than 670,000 square feet and including 228 private patient rooms, the new Banner University Medical Center – Tucson campus is Banner University Medical Group’s largest construction project in its history.

Before the patients were transferred to the new tower on April 22nd, faculty, staff, residents and fellows, and the public alike got to celebrate the new tower in a series of exciting events that included tours, live music, free food, and fun activities, all against the backdrop of the stunning Tucson landscape visible from every floor of the new tower. Here are some of the highlights from our celebrations and the building itself!

The ORs

Of course, as a surgical department, perhaps what we’re most excited about are the spacious, state-of-the-art operating rooms (ORs) available in the new tower. With 20 operating rooms available and three more incoming by the beginning of next year, we will have the ability to accommodate more cases at one time than ever before.

Even more exciting is the upgraded technology equipping each room, providing more efficiency for surgeons, anesthesiologists, OR nurses, and the greater operating team and improved comfort and outcomes for patients. Patients are wheeled in to the OR and enjoy soft, soothing lighting and calming images on the surrounding monitors as the anesthesia takes effect. Once the patient is asleep, the room turns into a fully functional operating room with integrated Image Stream medical systems for remote case viewing, real-time conferencing with surgical pathology, and, in two of the rooms, the latest robotic surgical equipment for minimally invasive procedures.


Photo Credit: Ruvini Samarasinha, Department of Surgery

The da Vinci Robot

The public got their first sneak peek of the new tower at Cyclovia Tucson, a bicycle ride and festival across the city that commenced at the hospital. Our staff volunteers represented the Department of Surgery with a booth that included a real-life da Vinci Robot. Attendees tried their hands at robotic surgery, using the robot to pick up a range of small items, and learned all about the system from a da Vinci representative. It’s safe to say we have some aspiring surgeons on our hands!


Photo Credit: Ruvini Samarasinha, Department of Surgery

Dress Like a Surgeon

Another highlight from Cyclovia was our dress like a surgeon activity, which challenged attendees to suit up like surgeons as quickly as possible. Kids and adults alike enjoyed scrambling into surgeon’s garb: gowns, bouffants, masks, and gloves. How official is this bunch?

The Waiting Areas

The best hospitals not only cater to patients, but patients’ families and support systems as well. The new Banner hospital tower is rife with beautiful areas for friends, family members, and other visitors to pass the time if they need a break from their loved one’s hospital room. From the upgraded chapel to the spacious cafeteria with an expanded menu and beautiful outdoor seating area, there’s a place for everyone to find peace. The best part? The stunning mountain views visible from nearly every room in the building.

Signing the Wall

Banner and University of Arizona faculty, staff, and students celebrated the new tower before it opened to the public with an open house event. As personnel entered the building, they were encouraged to sign a large photo of the hospital and the surrounding wall. The wall serves as a powerful tribute to the team-oriented nature of our mission in research, patient care, and education and a testament to the hospital’s belonging to the entire Tucson community. The marks we left in 2019 will remain there throughout the hospital’s history.


While the grand opening may have passed, the excitement our new tower brings is far from over. As we look forward to all of the innovations in research, education, and patient care that this building makes possible, a bright future in healthcare emerges for our surgeons, aspiring surgeons, patients, and above all, the Tucson and greater Southwest community.