Las Vegas Sun

January 22, 2018

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Medical community embraces alliance

Clinic’s expertise will be felt beyond Ruvo center, many say


Tiffany Brown

Larry Ruvo listens as Nevada Sen. Harry Reid speaks Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, at the announcement of the Cleveland Clinic’s partnership with the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute.

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute (part 3)

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute announces partnership with the Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Press Conference

Larry Ruvo does a sound check just before a press conference announcing the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute's partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, at the brain institute in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute (part 2)

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Lou Ruvo Brain Institute Exterior

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute Interior

As the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute exterior nears completion, the interior comes to life with intention. Details including colors, the use of natural light and the comfort of moving through the spaces were planned specifically for patients suffering from Alzheimers and other brain illnesses, seen in the Frank Gehry building in Las Vegas on Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Lou Ruvo Brain Institute

The Cleveland Clinic, the newest top-tier player in the Las Vegas health care system, will shake up the status quo, creating a multitude of direct and residual benefits for patients throughout the region, local medical experts predict.

Even just in its role as partner in the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which was formally announced Tuesday, the hospital — ranked fourth best nationally by U.S. News & World Report — it will influence medical care in Nevada on the strength of its immense organization. Its $4.8 billion annual budget is more than half that of the Nevada government, and the institution boasts 85 years of expertise in numerous medical and research fields.

The hospital is widely applauded by its peers for its transparency in reporting the outcomes of its procedures and surgeries, and for such intense focus on patient care that doctors’ salaries are based in part on how well they are scored by their patients.

By those two measures alone, the Cleveland Clinic will dramatically raise expectations for the quality of health care in Nevada.

“Patients and researchers in Las Vegas should feel very optimistic,” said Heather Murren, Nevada Cancer Institute cofounder and chairman of the board. “There is a light amidst a lot of darkness in health care.”

Dr. John McDonald, vice president of health sciences at University of Nevada, Reno, said the Cleveland Clinic “will bring a level of patient care that the public is probably not accustomed to in Las Vegas. It raises the bar for all of us.”

The institution’s presence will be impossible to ignore, doctors and health care executives said Tuesday, improving health care for patients whether they visit the Cleveland Clinic facility or not.

Murren said the Cleveland Clinic brings a reputation and expertise that will “command the respect” of the insurance companies and employers in Las Vegas who have been paying “lip service” to the importance of excellent patient care and safety — but don’t do as much as they should to make it happen.

An institution with the clout of the Cleveland Clinic can break through a good-old-boy network that exists in Las Vegas, she suggested.

“Now we have to look at things by virtue of their substance, not by virtue of the relationships that exist,” Murren said.

The partnership between the Cleveland Clinic and what had been known as the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute will focus on degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s, emphasizing care that includes patients and their families, and conducting research to find a cure.

The Cleveland Clinic partnership is a coup for Larry Ruvo, the local businessman and philanthropist who founded the brain institute in honor of his father, who died of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinic officials said they decided to join Ruvo because of his commitment to the cause of medical research, the strength of architect Frank Gehry’s design of the facility, and the support of the organization’s fundraising and advocacy arm, Keep Memory Alive.

The brain center’s patients will take notice of the high standards of care, and that creates competition that can only benefit the community, said Dr. Ole Thienhaus, dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno.

“If you have a first-class resource like the Cleveland Clinic, I would imagine that other primary care and neurology providers will have to keep up and offer a comparable product if they want to stay in business,” Thienhaus said.

Kathy Silver, chief executive of University Medical Center, Clark County’s only public hospital, said an organization like the Cleveland Clinic brings established best practices that will position it as a role model for other health care providers. “If they can bring certain best practices and it will benefit our community, then I think we should embrace it,” Silver said.

When she heard the Cleveland Clinic publishes for public consumption the outcomes of its surgical procedures — including infection and survival rates, information that Nevada hospitals may report to oversight agencies but do not make public — she said: “I think that’s pretty cool. It’s not a bad thing to want to emulate.”

Everyone interviewed by the Sun said he would look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Clinic in whatever way possible. Suzie Wood, system director for business development for the Valley Health System, which runs five local hospitals, said the Cleveland Clinic brings credibility and innovative research that will complement inpatient services provided by the hospitals.

Dr. John C. Ruckdeschel, the new chief executive at Nevada Cancer Institute, another clinical and research organization striving to raise the standard of health care in Las Vegas, said there will be opportunities to collaborate with the Cleveland Clinic because “research doesn’t respect boundaries.” There will be overlaps in cancer and brain research, he said, which could provide opportunities for the two organizations to work together.

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