Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 4:13 p.m.
As president and CEO of Las Vegas-based Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers, Chris Vito has successfully utilized his two decades of experience in the health care administration industry to fill a gap in the Southern Nevada market while also growing NADHC into a profitable and flourishing entity.
Although he originally intended to follow his father’s lead and pursue a career as a physician, medical school was not in the cards for Vito. Instead, he obtained a master’s degree in health care administration from Southern California’s University of La Verne after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from the University of Arizona.
“It seemed like right after I got my master’s degree, all the hospitals started calling for me to work as an executive,” Vito said, adding that within a couple of years in the industry, he became COO of a medical facility, then eventually CEO of several hospitals, and was in fact one of the youngest hospital chief executives in California. “My passion is taking care of people, and despite the fact I did not become a physician, I still take care of people for a living.”
Vito was recruited to Henderson by health care services provider HealthSouth to manage the design, construction, development and operation of its newest hospital in 2001.
“I got a call out of nowhere, and they flew me down to this piece of dirt and said, ‘We want you to build a hospital right here,’ ” said Vito, who embraced the opportunity to create the new facility from the ground up, and had it operational and filled to capacity in less than a year. “But by then I’d been working for corporate America for 21 years, and the dream of any corporate guy in health care is to co-own his own hospital, so after three or four years with HealthSouth, I took the big leap to be an entrepreneur.”
Vito, whose wife Cristina is a registered nurse and serves as administrator and director of nursing for NADHC, said his foray into business ownership happened almost by chance.
“I like to be active in the community and do my civic duty, and out of the clear blue, the City of Henderson named me 2003 Business Man of the Year. After I got the award, all these bankers wanted to have lunch with me. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out they want to take a chance on me as a businessperson, and I had always had this idea of an adult day health care center. Bank of Nevada believed in my business plan and took a bet on me, and Wells Fargo nominated me for this 2010 SBA award.”
Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers was founded in 2003 as a social-medical model that provides services to the elderly and disabled adults. NADHC was developed to help Southern Nevada senior and disabled citizens maintain their independence and health through an organized program of daily services that are intended to stimulate, educate, socialize and educate participants.
“The concept was daycare for old people, but in explaining my vision to my wife, I said, ‘We’re hospital people, so let’s put health care into day care,’ ” said Vito, who owns several other health care and real estate businesses.
To that end, NADHC provides nursing services, physical therapy, and occupational and speech therapy, and also has a medical director, and onsite dental and podiatry services.
Since its inception, NADHC has grown from a handful of employees to a staff of nearly 50. Average daily attendance of clients has consistently increased each year by 5 percent to 24 percent, while gross receipts have grown from $355,000 in 2004 to $2.2 million in 2009.
The company has three facilities, including its primary location at Sahara Avenue and Jones Boulevard, which has a capacity of 120 individuals. An annex at the same site can accommodate 30 mentally challenged patients. A third location at the Arturo Cambeiro Senior Center on Stewart Avenue and 13th Street is a collaboration between the Latin Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Housing Authority.
An advocate in his industry, Vito was recently instrumental in derailing a proposal to do away with adult daycare service in Nevada.
“In February, the governor’s office sent out a letter saying that the state was eliminating adult daycare,” Vito said. “This was on a Tuesday. I testified on Wednesday and Thursday before the Nevada State Health Care Committee and the Nevada State Finance Committee, and at the same time paraded 50 or so clients in walkers and wheelchairs. If the state thinks eliminating adult daycare will save money, think again.
“If these people can’t go to an adult daycare center, they’ll go to a nursing home. The state reimburses nursing homes $150 to $300 per day per patient, and they reimburse me $54 per day per person. And if they don’t go to a nursing home, they’ll wait until they’re really sick and then go to UMC, and UMC will bill the state. Well, by Friday afternoon, the governor sent out a press release saying that he decided to rescind the elimination because the cost would be exponential to the state. The Nevada State Legislature and the governor’s office realized that adult daycare services are not only clinically effective but also cost-effective for Nevada.”