Flagstaff Elections Send a Direct Warning to Banner Health in Scottsdale

Regular readers know of the saga playing out in Scottsdale with Banner Health; they are attempting to shoehorn in an unnecessary hospital in order to supposedly address a non-existent need in the face of largely non-existent public support. But in what is a gigantic shot across the bow in a similar situation elsewhere in the state, public support seems to be implying a seismic shift away from them.

In a strikingly similar situation, Northern Arizona Healthcare decided that they wanted to build an enormous new hospital facility in the city of Flagstaff and actually garnered tacit initial support from the city council. Residents disagreed however, and didn’t see the need or value of such a project, the arguments for and against to many of those that have been made by Banner Health in Scottsdale. And as would almost certainly be the case in Scottsdale, outrage allowed opponents to gather the necessary referendum signatures to put it to a public vote.

Proposition 480 made it to the ballot, and the citizenry had their say yesterday. The results were overwhelming to say the least; the Flagstaff hospital proposal was defeated by overwhelming and nearly historic proportions. The first count of votes show that 72% of voters voted against this clearly unwanted development. At first count that represents a 44 point loss, an embarrassing defeat.

Kudos must be given to the opposition group, Flagstaff Community First. They raised plenty of salient points that the Yes group apparently had no good answers to, namely the patently unnecessary nature of the project and the impacts to traffic and quality of life without real improvements to healthcare. And did that message ever resonate.

No real improvement to healthcare but with negative impacts to traffic and quality of life…does that sound familiar? It should; it’s the very conversation playing out right now in North Scottsdale regarding Banner Health’s proposed project. It’s a conversation happening in dining rooms, coffee shops, and bars around the proposed site.

So the question that Banner Health should be asking itself is…does it really want to raise the ire of the overwhelming majority of the populace in a similar way? Does it require such a major mobilization of the citizenry before it reads the room and decides to reevaluate its plans? This embarrassment for Northern Arizona Healthcare likely could have been avoided by simply asking the residents and reading the room: will Banner avoid the mistakes of Northern Arizona Healthcare and truly do its due diligence? Because past is prologue and what happened in Flagstaff would be repeated in Scottsdale.