UMC Unites in Response to Tragic Shooting.

By Mason VanHouweling, UMC CEO

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, our community demonstrated an unparalleled level of unity in the face of an unspeakable tragedy.

Reflecting the strength of the community we serve, our team at UMC in Las Vegas came together in an incredible display of skill, preparation and resilience to save dozens of lives. While several patients arrived at UMC with no chance of survival, our team members saved everyone who had a possibility of living, and we saw many of these patients walk out our front doors and return home to their families.

As Nevada’s Only Level I Trauma Center, UMC has an incredible responsibility to provide the highest level of care, and our team delivered the best conceivable outcome in response to the most challenging situation we have ever faced. I have never been more proud of our team and the entire city of Las Vegas.

The care UMC provided would not have been possible without the courageous efforts of the first responders. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, local firefighters and our community’s amazing EMS professionals risked their lives to save others, and we will never forget their bravery.

Shortly after the gunfire erupted on October 1, our Emergency Department and Trauma teams prepared for the worst to ensure patients had the best possible chance of survival. Before the first patient came to our Emergency Department, additional team members from virtually every department began to arrive. We didn’t need to ask people twice; our team members arrived in droves, ready to assist in any way possible. Many came in without being called as they watched the horror unfold on the news.

While walking through the halls of UMC the week of the shooting, I saw the weary faces of heroes who came together to provide live-saving care and unwavering compassion in our community’s greatest time of need. Despite our shared exhaustion, we stopped to thank one another, offering words of gratitude and encouragement. Sometimes it was just a simple nod and a smile between colleagues, but the meaning remained the same: we were proud to stand together and offer the care our community deserves.

Two days after the shooting, as I saw UMC Chief of Trauma Dr. John Fildes walking through the hallways, I marveled as team members from across the hospital took the opportunity to thank him for directing our trauma team’s incredible efforts on the night of the shooting. One interaction between Dr. Fildes and a member of our Environmental Services team stands out in my mind. Rather than simply accepting the praise and moving on to grab a much-needed cup of coffee, Dr. Fildes stopped and thanked his co-worker from Environmental Services for working tirelessly to keep the Trauma Resuscitation area clean and constantly prepared for an influx of critically injured patients Sunday night and Monday morning. This interaction represents the true collaborative spirit of UMC and our hometown of Las Vegas.

This tragedy brought out the very best in our community. People visited UMC on a daily basis, delivering food, drinks and other essentials in an effort to provide some semblance of comfort to our patients and their families. Perhaps most importantly, community members lined up for hours upon hours to donate blood, doing their part to save lives.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the community for showing the world our unshakable strength and compassion.

While many people demonstrated incredible strength in response to this tragedy, no one displayed greater resilience than the victims of this tragic shooting. These men and women inspired our team and people across the world. We developed strong bonds with these patients as our team worked tirelessly to heal their wounds and help them return to their homes and families.

As UMC continues to focus on providing the highest level of care in Nevada, I remain confident that no bullet can damage the spirit of our patients, our hospital and our community.

Photo: Courtesy of UMC

Powerful Reunion of One October Survivors A Symbol of Hope.

There are so many stories of goodness, kindness and love that came out of the One October shooting, many which have not been publicly shared.  This one, in particular, is especially touching and represents the hundreds of stories like it that may not have been told.

As the shooting began to unfold, Las Vegas bartender Justin Uhart, who was working the Route 91 Harvest Festival, stumbled upon Jan Lambourne, a Canadian woman who had been shot in the stomach. As others fled the scene, Uhart stayed behind to sit vigil and tightly hold Lambourne’s hand, offering words of encouragement and support.  In that moment, they were bonded for life, and Lambourne now considers Uhart a son.  Watch this touching video of their reunion a few days after the shooting.

Photo: Jan Lambourne and Justin Uhart reunion at Valley Hospital – courtesy of Valley Hospital



Gratitude is a funny thing.  It’s often hard to find the words, the gifts, or the gestures that can adequately express thanks for a kindness extended or experienced.  And for survivors of the One October shooting, this couldn’t be truer.  How do you thank someone for literally saving your life and the lives of hundreds who were injured in the country’s worst mass shooting?

Yet on December 8, a group of survivors from Denver found the perfect way to do just that.  They arrived in Las Vegas to deliver 75 “thank you” baskets to first responders in our city.  The group, with help from family and friends, raised more than $37,000 to create the baskets and personally deliver them to employees of both UMC and Valley Hospital.

James L. Holtz, BSN, MAOM-HCA, Administrative Director of Critical Care Services at Valley Hospital Medical Center, was especially touched by the groups’ visit.

“It was overwhelming, and it really hit our collective hearts. Their gift baskets are greatly appreciated. Our emergency staff working the night of the October 1 shooting are forever changed. And to have a group of survivors of that horrific night come back to Las Vegas and thank us was just amazing.”

Photo: Gift basket delivery to Valley Hospital – courtesy of Valley Hospital


Within the heart of the Las Vegas Medical District, an intersection of two streets renamed during the last year has taken on special meaning following the One October shooting.  The intersection of Wellness Way and Hope Place now stands as a symbol of the extraordinary life-saving work performed at UMC, Valley Hospital Medical Center and other nearby medical facilities.

Wellness Way, formerly Bearden and Goldring Avenue, runs east from Shadow Lane (Bearden) and west from Shadow Lane just north of UMC (Goldring).  It was officially renamed in April 2017 as part of a long-term master plan for the area focused on the development and evolution of a cohesive medical district that includes physical infrastructure improvements as well as a more coordinated approach to medical care with the arrival of the UNLV School of Medicine and a growing number of ancillary medical facilities.

Originally named for the Bearden family, who are direct descendants of Robert E. Lake, the first barber in Las Vegas and the founder of the first school in Las Vegas, Wellness Way planned improvements include a future pocket park that will commemorate the family’s historic contribution to the area via a plaque in their honor.  The park is expected to be complete later this year.

According to Lois Tarkanian, Mayor Pro Tem, city of Las Vegas, the name change to Wellness Way was a unanimous decision of the Las Vegas Medical District and the department of Economic and Urban Development and in keeping with the vision of the area that is undergoing significant economic redevelopment as a result of the new medical school, improvements to existing medical facilities and the arrival of new businesses to support the growing area.

Hope Place, formerly known as Rose Street and renamed in March 2016, runs north and south in front of the UMC Trauma Center and Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC.  According to UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling, the decision to rename the street was made months before the One October shooting to reflect the life-changing and life-saving care provided at the UMC Trauma Center and Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC on a daily basis.

“As Nevada’s only Level I Trauma Center, UMC remains committed to offering the highest level of care available to community members and visitors.” said VanHouweling.  “The Southern Nevada medical community, including UMC, is in the business of providing hope to patients and their families.  The new street signs for both Hope Place and Wellness Way serve as a daily reminder to all who enter our doors that hope and health are always at the forefront of our mission.”

Photo: Intersection of Wellness Way and Hope Place