“By 2030, the Las Vegas Medical District will be the clinical care, research, wellness, education and training center of Southern Nevada and the premier academic medical district in the southwestern United States.”
That’s what more than 150 people who attended a recent Town Hall meeting heard from City Manager Betsy Fretwell on January 24 at City Hall. Hosted by the Clark County Medical Society in cooperation with the City of Las Vegas and UNLV School of Medicine, the purpose of the Town Hall was to educate physicians, health care providers, other stakeholders and the general public on the plans and progress for both the Las Vegas Medical District (LVMD) and the UNLV School of Medicine.
Following opening remarks from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, Betsy Fretwell shared that the city has invested more than $36 million in infrastructure, marketing, and planning within the district since 2013 and through 2017. Plus, the city has an additional investment of $97 million planned for 2018 and beyond.
“We can’t say enough about the critical importance of growing the Medical District,” said Fretwell. “Access to quality medical care is foundational to quality of life, and quite frankly, it’s been something that has been lacking in our community for decades. With the new School of Medicine and a focus on creating a true Academic Health Center by encouraging greater development and synergy between medical facilities and services in a concentrated area, Southern Nevada takes a giant leap forward.”
Clustered along W. Charleston Blvd. near University Medical Center (UMC), Valley Hospital and other ancillary medical providers, the LVMD has a thoughtful master plan to guide its future growth that includes street improvements and beautification projects in the area; continued business development and retention; enhanced connectivity to Downtown Las Vegas and Symphony Park, including Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health; and incorporation into the new Downtown Master Plan.
“It’s not enough to create a great medical district unless it is truly connected to the immediate neighborhoods that surround it, downtown and the greater community at large,” said Fretwell. “The Las Vegas Medical District is the future of medicine in Southern Nevada, so its development plan must be thoughtful and comprehensive, and we must make significant investment to ensure it continues to take shape as envisioned.”
In addition to uplifting medical care throughout the valley, the LVMD’s projected economic impact is so significant, it ranks among the most important projects in our region. By 2020 – just three years from now – the total economic impact is projected to be $609 million with more than 4,000 jobs generated. And by 2030, those numbers increase even more to $2.42 billion and 16,000-plus jobs.
It can easily be said the new UNLV School of Medicine is the cornerstone of the Medical District. And according to Dr. Barbara Atkinson, Founding Dean, the first class of 60 hand-selected students starts July 17, 2017. Students were carefully screened to include as many with Nevada connections as possible with a goal to contribute greater numbers of well-trained doctors committed to practicing in Southern Nevada.
Atkinson has been busy developing an exciting, innovative and cutting-edge curriculum that includes such unique features as Emergency Medical Technician certification, 400 hours of community service, virtual anatomy and microscopy applications and problem-based learning. She also played a major role in successfully securing preliminary accreditation for the new Medical School – no small feat. And she announced that renovations are in progress on the third floor of the UNLV dental school for the Medical School’s interim campus. Students will spend their first two years of education in this space until the new medical education building is completed.
Like the Medical District, the UNLV School of Medicine is projected to create a huge economic uplift of more than $1.2 billion and 8,000 jobs. But beyond that, the Medical School will be a catalyst and driver for better health care in Southern Nevada. And without good health, nothing else matters.
Photo: Aerial rendering of the Las Vegas Medical District featuring the UNLV School of Medicine. Courtesy of UNLV School of Medicine.