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Courier Photo Illustration/Jo. L. Keener
Janet Knapp, rear, and Laura Tewksbury move a patient from Pre-Op Friday at the new Yavapai Regional Medical Center East in Prescott Valley.

Courier Photo Illustration/Jo. L. Keener Janet Knapp, rear, and Laura Tewksbury move a patient from Pre-Op Friday at the new Yavapai Regional Medical Center East in Prescott Valley.

PRESCOTT VALLEY ­ In its first 60 days of operation, Yavapai Regional Medical Center's East Campus admitted more than 3,000 patients into its emergency department.

Were it not for the new hospital, many of those patients would have had to go to YRMC's west campus in Prescott, nearly 10 miles away.

Dr. A.J. Parush, a two-year YRMC veteran who, like many physicians, works at both hospitals, was working at the east campus Wednesday.

"This town can really use this hospital," he said from inside the high-ceilinged front lobby. "We see a lot of Prescott Valley patients in Prescott."

"The only thing is we're trying to get more specialty physicians and surgeons," he noted. "Once we ramp up on that, we'll be a state-of-the-art facility."

About 90 doctors currently work at the east campus, providing 20 different specialty services including cardiology (heart), hematology (blood) and endocrinology (glands).

The hospital also has 22 primary care physicians.

On the nursing side of operations, the hospital employs about 120, including 80 registered nurses, each of whom earn between $21 and $33 an hour.

The town is banking on those high wages contributing to the community's economic climate. In 2001, it inked a development agreement with YRMC that calls for it to pay the hospital $150,000 a year for 10 years. Roughly $50,000 of that annual cost is to repay YRMC for road improvements it made to Florentine Road.

Nine of Yavapai County's 10 top-paying jobs are in the medical field, according to the state Department of Economic Security.

East Campus Administrator John Amos said the hospital pays an average hourly wage of more than $20 and, from May to December 2006 alone, will pay more than $8 million in wages.

That number could jump to $16 million in 2007, he said. Economic estimates show each payroll dollar turning over at least four times in the community.

Yavapai County's average wage was $15.06 an hour in 2005, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurses fresh out of school typically make more than $21 an hour.

YRMC's head of recruiting and employee relations, Mark Timm, said YRMC has hired 428 new employees since January, including everyone from housekeepers to physical therapists.

"Nurses are one of our hard-to-fill positions," he said.

To attract the most qualified nurses to the Prescott area, Timm said the hospital advertises across the nation, often on Web sites medically trained people frequent.

"Nurses come from all over the place," he said. "There is not enough local talent. Most of our recruitment happens outside the community."

In the next six months, YRMC plans to hire at least 40 more nurses to staff new programs at the west campus and 10 new inpatient beds at the east campus the hospital plans to open in September.

The east campus currently is using only 24 of its 50 beds and plans to open 10 additional beds every 90 days.

Planted on 37 acres YRMC bought in 1988, the east campus has plenty of elbowroom and likely will expand to 125 beds, then 250 beds as the area's population grows.

The west campus has 136 beds on 13 acres and does not have room to expand.

Contact the reporter at malewis@prescottaz.com

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