First Surgeries Today in Banner – UMC’s New ORs in Tower 1

After 46 years and more than 200,000 surgical procedures, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson closed its 18 operating rooms in its original hospital building Sunday night and opened 20 state-of-the-art surgical suites in the hospital’s new Tower 1.

Hospital chaplain Joe Fitzgerald led doctors and nurses in an early-morning blessing of Perioperative Services, which occupies the entire third floor of the nine-story tower. 

Following that, UA President Robert C. Robbins, MD, and Irving L. Kron, MD, interim dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, both cardiothoracic surgeons, presided over a ribbon-cutting of the operating room where the day’s first surgery was performed by Professor Benjamin R. Lee, MD, chief of the Division of Urology in the UA Department of Surgery.

Dr. Lee performed a robotic partial nephrectomy – the surgical removal of a portion of the kidney using an advanced surgical robot.

“The new operating rooms are a fantastic way to serve the people of Arizona with the latest technology and modern facilities,” said Dr. Lee, a nationally recognized kidney cancer specialist. “My job as a urologist is to save the kidney, and minimize the risk of renal failure and dialysis. We can cure kidney cancer without having to take out the entire kidney.” 

“I’m walking into the hospital with cancer and expect to walk out of the hospital without it,” said Dr. Lee’s patient, Tammy Cox, shortly before her Monday morning surgery.

Cox, an administrator in the Writing Skills Improvement Program in the UA Department of Humanities, recently received a diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma and immediately was referred to Dr. Lee. She is expected to make a complete recovery following three to six days in the hospital.

Banner – UMC’s former operating rooms date from the early 1970s, when the hospital opened as University Hospital.

In addition to the operating rooms, nearly all the inpatient units from the original building – as well as the hospital’s main entrance, cafeteria and chapel – have been relocated to Tower 1.

Nonprofit Banner Health invested $446 million and four years of construction on the new tower, which opened to the public April 22. 

News assignments editors: B-roll of Dr. Lee and his surgical team performing a robotic partial nephrectomy this morning here. Video: Roy Wageman, UAHS BioCommunications.

About Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, nationally ranked as a Best Hospital by U.S. News and World Report, and Banner – University Medical Center South, are part of Banner – University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. These institutions are academic medical centers for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Included on the two campuses are Diamond Children's Medical Center and many specialty clinics. The two academic medical centers are part of Arizona-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country, with 28 hospitals in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit or

Release Date: 
04/29/2019 - 6:22am
Original Story: