Las Vegas Sun

December 1, 2015

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County votes to disband UMC Hospital Advisory Board


Sam Morris / File photo

University Medical Center is Clark County's only publicly funded hospital.

Map of University Medical Center of Southern Nevada

University Medical Center of Southern Nevada

1800 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas

A Clark County board established two years ago to take some monitoring of University Medical Center out of the hands of county commissioners is being dissolved.

At Tuesday’s county commission meeting, commissioners unanimously approved disbanding the 11-member UMC Hospital Advisory Board. In turn, the county will ask the Legislature next year to let the county form a semi-autonomous board that would be able to conduct its business behind closed doors.

The objective of the new board, UMC administrators have said, is to be able to plan without the valley's private hospitals from taking the UMC's plans and starting them before UMC can.

Last month, after a contentious public hearing, commissioners decided to put off their vote until Tuesday.

During that public hearing, union members who work at UMC roundly panned the proposal for a new board. They told commissioners the board’s secrecy was wrong, and they worried the move was a step toward privatizing the hospital.

For years, hospital administrators have said representatives from private hospitals come to the UMC meetings, which are now open to the public, learn about the direction the hospital wants to go, then quickly move their own programs in that direction. The result sometimes means UMC, southern Nevada's only taxpayer-funded hospital, loses potential business.

University Medical Center operates at an annual loss of about $75 million, despite Clark County subsidizing it to the tune of about $150 million annually.

A UMC administrator had told commissioners the bill draft would allow the county to create a subsidiary that would have "some" attributes of a private hospital but would mostly preserve the public character of the hospital.

"We need the legislation to achieve the goals ... " that commissioners have previously stated.

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