Friday, June 16, 2017 | 2 a.m.
With the snip of a ribbon, the first of four new Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican hospitals slated to open this year in the Las Vegas Valley was celebrated by dignitaries from the partnering medical organizations and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee.
“With all of the projects our community is currently working on, I can tell you none is more important to our community,” Lee said. “This is a special day.”
The 20,000-square-foot facility on the corner of Craig Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard can accommodate eight patients in need of emergency care and eight in need of inpatient care, said Gus Forward of Emerus hospital management group. Emerus partnered with Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican in building and funding the hospital, which broke ground in March 2016 and will open June 30.
The other hospitals planned under the partnership, on Flamingo Road and the 215 Beltway, Blue Diamond Road and Decatur Boulevard and Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, are set to open July 24, Aug. 16 and in early November. All told, the facilities are expected to bring 250 to 280 jobs to the valley and fast emergency care in neighborhoods where residents might need better access.
“We’re focusing on unserved and underserved communities,” said Sister Katie McGrail of St. Rose Dominican. “That was a top priority.”
The model calls for two nurses and one physician to serve each patient at the North Las Vegas location, Forward said. He estimates the new hospital will see 30 to 80 patients each day, a departure from local hospitals with hundreds of beds, where he says the ratio of care providers to patients is significantly smaller.
“Instead of having hundreds of patients to look at, we’re managing one patient at a time,” he said. “But we never know how much a community needs us until the first few months of operation. So we’ll see how things go.”
Speakers at Thursday’s event touted the hospital's christening as “a step forward” in addressing a shortage of medical care in Nevada.
According to the University of Nevada School of Medicine's 2016 Physician Workforce in Nevada report, the state ranks 47th in the U.S. for the number of active physicians serving residents, at a ratio of 197.4 to 100,000. The study found that the state had just 5,604 active physicians in 2016. Other UNSOM data have shown shortages in terms of both generalists and specialists, with Nevada ranking near or at the bottom in terms of the number of family practice doctors, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, ophthalmologists, psychiatric physicians and registered nurses.
Health care employees amount to just over 6 percent of the state’s total workforce, according to 2016 estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every other state in the region was above 7 percent (Montana had 9.6), and the national average was 9 percent.
One way to address such gaps is to retain more medical residents and fellows who train in Nevada. Dignity Health already is partnering with Henderson-based Roseman University of Health Sciences and Touro University Nevada on clinical internships, and spokeswoman Katie Ryan said the organization sees itself “doing the same” with the UNLV School of Medicine launching its first class in August.
“Graduate medical education is so important when it comes to educating and keeping our physicians and nurses here where we need them most,” Ryan said. "We look forward to other possible partnerships in the future.”
Lee said that keeping Southern Nevada's aspiring practitioners in the area as professionals was “a goal,” adding that the new facility supports that objective.
“We need a lot of places for these young doctors to practice and learn,” he said. “Exporting doctors back to where they came from never benefits us.”