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October 2, 2014

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Nathan Adelson Hospice announces fellowship program

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Christopher DeVargas

The lobby of Nathan Adelson Hospice, the largest and oldest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada Thursday, March 27, 2014.

Nathan Adelson Hospice

The courtyard at the Nathan Adelson Hospice, the largest and oldest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada Thursday, March 27, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Nathan Adelson Hospice announced today it is launching the first medical fellowship program for end-of-life care in Southern Nevada this summer.

The hospice, in partnership with Touro University Nevada and Valley Hospital Medical Center, will host three fellows starting July 1. One of the three fellowships will be set aside for D.O. graduates from Touro University who complete their medical residency at Valley Hospital.

Over the course of the yearlong program, these medical school graduates will provide palliative — or end-of-life — care to many of the 400 patients served by the hospice. The fellows will learn how to use traditional and holistic medicine to manage pain and prolong life for patients in hospitals, in-home care and assisted-living facilities.

“Together, we will relieve physical suffering, ease emotional pain and add life to our patients,” said Las Vegas real estate pioneer Irwin Molasky, who co-founded the hospice in 1956.

The osteopathic (D.O.) fellowship program for hospice care is the first of its kind in Nevada and only one of 11 nationally approved by the American Osteopathic Association. UNR’s School of Medicine has a similar program in Reno, but for allopathic (M.D.) residents.

Nathan Adelson Hospice foundation is funding the three fellowships, which come at a cost of about $100,000 each.

The fellowship program comes as Las Vegas becomes a retirement destination for thousands of aging Baby Boomers. As more seniors relocate to Southern Nevada, community leaders have started pushing for better quality health care.

Las Vegas has one of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita among large urban metropolitan regions in the country.

To solve Nevada’s doctor shortage and boost the state’s economy, some community leaders are pushing for new medical schools while others are advocating more medical residencies and fellowships.

Former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, who now serves as CEO and senior provost to Touro University’s Western Division, said the new fellowship program will help attract and retain doctors. The majority of medical school graduates decide to live and work where they complete their graduate medical education, she said.

“If we don’t have enough residencies, they’re going to leave Nevada,” said Berkley, who also serves on the Nathan Adelson Hospice board of trustees. “The problem is we don’t have enough medical residencies.”

Although hospice care has become a more popular field for medical students in recent years, the fellowship will give more advanced training in palliative care for new doctors, said Carole Fisher, the president and CEO of Nathan Adelson Hospice.

“It takes a special kind of person to work by the bedside, because they deal with very sensitive and emotional issues,” Fisher said. “We have one chance to help someone die with dignity, compassion and comfort.”

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