Arizona a hot spot for medical tourism


by Natalie Brand

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:10 AM

GOODYEAR, Ariz. --  More than 2,500 miles from his home in Alaska, Walter Weaver has chosen Arizona as his place to heal.

"It feels good to be here," said Weaver, who described his trips as vacations. However, he's also fighting off prostate cancer. He received the diagnosis last year.
"I didn't want to wait," Weaver said about seeking specialized care. "I have a 9-year-old, and I need to see him get through."
Weaver said he wasn't satisfied with his options in Alaska, so he started researching online and found the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  CTCA's Western Regional Medical Center is located in Goodyear.
"We end up being in an environment now where you can go to the Internet and find out what type of health care is available, not just locally, within the community, or even the region, but across the country, even worldwide," said Dr. Ed Staren, president and CEO of Western Regional Medical Center.
CTCA estimates up to 70 percent of its patients come to the facility from out of state.  The facility is considered a medical tourism destination, along with the Valley's renowned Mayo Clinic Hospital.

The Mayo estimates around 40 percent of its patients come from out of state.
"It's a healing environment," Staren said of Arizona.  "There's no question that the beautiful environment that we have here, the warmth, the mountains, the surrounding area, just the warmth of the people who live here."
Weaver told 3TV his team of doctors and nurses has become like family.  He said it's easy to forget you're at a hospital in Western Regional Medical Center, with amenities including an organic farm, hotel rooms, musical entertainment, gourmet food and personalized care.
"You're not coming here to die; you're coming here to get well, to get better, and that's what you do here," Weaver said.