Friday, Jan. 22, 2010 | 3 a.m.
University Medical Center, Clark County’s public hospital, has been losing money for years. Last year, for example, the county gave the hospital a $140 million subsidy.
UMC has struggled financially with its mission to provide indigent care, as have other public hospitals across the nation. Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid called for change at UMC and proposed transforming its mission into a teaching hospital. Although the hospital would still provide indigent care, a new focus would give it the latitude to expand its mission. Reid wants to see if the county can lure a nonprofit group to run the hospital and bring in the University of Nevada’s medical school to use it to train students.
The vision is commendable, but it will be no small task to make it happen. Last week Reid tapped Jim Rogers to lead the charge. Rogers, a successful businessman, philanthropist and former chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, is the right person. In addition to his strong ties with education and health care, he has a proven track record of handling difficult tasks successfully.
Rogers is wasting no time with UMC. He expects to have a draft plan done within three months and promises an aggressive effort to land a top-notch partner.
The idea holds incredible potential to not only spur an improvement in medicine in Southern Nevada — teaching hospitals often provide cutting-edge care — but it also could be an engine for economic diversification. In announcing Rogers, Reid said that the top hospitals in the country all have an academic core in the heart of their missions and noted that they also have an economic impact, referring to the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. A report for the hospital said that in 2002 it generated $7 billion in income for Maryland and was responsible for one of every $28 in the state’s economy.
“All of us in this community need to ask the question, ‘If they can do it there, why can’t we do it here?’ ” Reid said.
Good question. Why not? This won’t be an easy or quick task, but we believe this is a bold vision and an important step forward for Southern Nevada.