Encouraging Southern Nevadans to prioritize their health.

Never before has healthcare been more critical and important to personal and community wellbeing than it is right now.  The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global and local economies, not to mention everyday life as we know it. COVID-19 dominates every headline and has changed how we live and work, and how we interact – or not – with others.

While social distancing guidelines from the CDC and the mandates of our Governor were put in place to slow the spread of the virus and protect us, the effect of social distancing has impacted human health in another way. We find people are not seeking medical attention for other conditions.  This includes possible life-threatening conditions such as cardiac events, possible strokes and even well-care visits and vaccines for children and babies. In short, people have been concerned about going into any medical facility right now unless the situation is dire.

Recognizing that our voices are more powerful when combined, we are coming together to encourage not only our constituents throughout the city of Las Vegas and Clark County, but all Southern Nevadans, to take stock of their current health situation and make their appointments to see their physicians and specialists now. In fact, we held a joint press conference on June 10 with the city of Las Vegas, Clark County, UMC, Valley Hospital and UNLV School of Medicine.  Our message was and still is:  your healthcare providers are ready to see you.  Don’t put off your health anymore.  

We are confident Southern Nevada’s healthcare community–which includes hospitals, surgical and diagnostic centers, doctors’ offices, treatment centers and others–is taking the situation very seriously. They are putting into practice protocols to protect you and their teams as they begin to reopen their medical practices in what has been coined our new “normal.” 

In fact, no one knows how to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus better than our healthcare community. Nevadans with chronic health conditions that require special management from healthcare professionals should trust that hospitals like those in our Las Vegas Medical District, including UMC and Valley Hospitals, are working overtime to ensure they are following all safety protocols while preserving the ability to effectively treat patients and provide them with access to the procedures they need to maintain optimum health. Also, our UNLV School of Medicine has been on the forefront of COVID-19 testing by offering free tests to those who need it. Yet another example is the UNLV School of Dental Medicine, also located in the Medical District, which has implemented special air handling units and other safety protocols to ensure they can safely provide critical dental services at this time.

Like most businesses, our hospitals, doctors and ancillary medical providers have also suffered.  They, too, have lost significant revenue over the past several weeks as a result of their intense and sole focus on COVID-19, setting aside elective and proactive surgeries and medical procedures intended to maintain patients’ good health.  The same good health that is now in jeopardy because of delays in performing critical diagnostic and medical procedures, and the same good health to which all Southern Nevadans are entitled and deserve.    

As Las Vegas begins to slowly return to some semblance of “normal,” we encourage everyone in our community to see their doctors, their dentists and their medical providers.  Taking care of your personal health is something that cannot and should not wait nor continue to be put on the back burner.  In fact, seeking medical attention is imperative to not only personal health, but the overall good health of our community.

Photo: Las Vegas Medical District doctors and healthcare providers

Nevada’s Highest Level of Care, Nevada’s Highest Level of Safety.

UMC Now Offers COVID-19 Tests for all Admitted Patients

Stepping up to serve as a trusted leader in Nevada’s fight against COVID-19, UMC continues to set an example for the health care industry by expanding access to testing services and introducing innovative measures to safeguard the health of patients and staff. As a result of the hospital’s commitment to preparedness and clinical excellence, UMC now offers the state’s most comprehensive patient safety protocols.

UMC recently became the first and only hospital in Nevada to offer universal COVID-19 testing to every admitted patient, significantly improving the hospital’s ability to quickly identify and isolate patients with active COVID-19 infections.

“When community members visit UMC for emergencies or routine procedures, they can rest assured that every patient admitted to our hospital has been tested for COVID-19,” said Dr. Shadaba Asad, UMC’s Medical Director of Infectious Disease. “This additional layer of safety not only provides our patients with valuable peace of mind, it plays a key role in UMC’s overall strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 across Southern Nevada.”

The hospital also provides COVID-19 testing to all surgery patients, running tests the day prior to their scheduled cases. This safeguard allows UMC to meet the health care needs of the community by providing elective surgeries in an incredibly safe and controlled environment.

UMC serves as Nevada’s leader in COVID-19 testing, offering the state’s highest-capacity COVID-19 lab. With the ability to run 10,000 COVID-19 tests each day, UMC has significantly expanded Nevada’s overall testing capabilities.

UMC’s commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19 is immediately apparent upon entering the facility, with highly trained medical professionals utilizing cutting-edge thermal imaging cameras to quickly and accurately screen every person who enters the hospital. Additional safeguards include mandatory face coverings, dedicated isolation units, visitor and patient health screenings, hundreds of additional hand hygiene stations and expanded cleaning schedules to promote the safest possible environment for patients.

“Our team has truly gone above and beyond to protect the health of our patients and staff,” said UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling.

Photo: Courtesy of UMC

Providing essential diagnostic imaging exams.

The team at Desert Radiology aims to keep their patient’s health at the forefront of their practice, even during the most challenging of times. To conduct exams in the safest way possible, Desert Radiology quickly implemented a host of COVID-19 preventative protocols designed to safeguard both patients and teammates while continuing to provide essential preventative and lifesaving diagnostic exams.

Routine screenings such as DEXA (bone density), Mammography and Lung Screening CT exams help detect diseases early, when chances for treatment and cure are improved.  For example, Desert Radiology’s 3D mammography can aid in detecting 20-65% more invasive breast cancers early, and the bone density exams, known as DEXA, assess risks of developing osteoporosis. Both screenings highlight the importance of imaging exams.

While Desert Radiology encourages the continuation of preventative imaging exams to help mitigate potentially damaging, long-term effects of any health concerns, patients can rest assured the team at Desert Radiology is practicing the safest COVID-19 protocols in compliance with CDC and state directives.

Desert Radiology has implemented and is strictly enforcing the following COVID-19 safety protocols:

  • Conducting COVID-19 screenings of all patients and team members
  • Masks are required for anyone within the facility
  • Social distancing will be enforced within all areas of the facility
  • Plexi-glass barriers are installed at all receptionist desks
  • Virtual waiting rooms – patients may be asked to wait inside their vehicle following appointment check-ins
  • Equipment sterilization between exams
  • Expanded facility hours to accommodate additional exams

As a leading authority in essential imaging services, Desert Radiology will continue to apply the latest COVID-19 safety measures that will allow its facilities to remain open for Southern Nevada patients and hospitals who rely on Desert Radiology’s team of experienced physicians, technologists and support staff.

Photo: Courtesy of Desert Radiology

UNLV School of Medicine Dean Marc J. Kahn on vaccinations.

Now that we are beginning to better understand COVID-19, it is really important that we address our routine health care needs that may have been ignored during the pandemic.

Specifically, we need to think about health maintenance. This includes being up to date on vaccinations, especially for children. It is especially important that children get the recommended vaccinations, regardless of whether they are going back into the classroom.  

And for adults, there are several indicated vaccinations. For those over 50, the herpes Zoster or shingles vaccine is indicated and a pneumonia vaccine is also indicated for some middle-aged adults and people with underlying medical conditions. We advise visiting with your primary care provider to get vaccinated for those conditions that are appropriate for your age and health. 

It is also important for all of us to address our general health needs. There are screenings that may need to be done as part of preventive health care. For women, screening mammography or pap smears are part of staying healthy. For men, screening prostate cancer may be indicated.  For both men and women who are over age 50, screening for colon cancer becomes important to prevent disease.  Again, talking to your doctor about all of the preventive medical services that are indicated as part of your care. 

Lastly, we all need to make sure that we are taking all of our prescribed medications. With COVID-19, it may have been easy to run out of medications. Now is a good time to take stock of your supply to ensure you are well prepared.

We also want to keep track of our weight, make sure we are eating healthy and getting enough sleep.  During the pandemic, it’s been easy to ignore even the most basic healthcare needs as the world focused on COVID-19.  Today, we should remember that preventive medicine is the best medicine.

Photo: Courtesy of UNLV School of Medicine; Dr. Mark J. Kahn, Dean, UNLV School of Medicine

Offering lifesaving mammograms.

For over 30 years, Steinberg Diagnostic Medical Imaging (SDMI) has been a leader in radiology in Southern Nevada. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SDMI has remained open to be a community resource for anyone needing diagnostic radiology and to ensure patients continued to have access to the potentially lifesaving procedures they need.

One of those procedures is Mammography. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide.  And while the statistics proving the efficacy of mammography are staggering, so are the statistics of women who haven’t had a Mammogram in the last two years. According to the CDC, over 35% of women ages 40-plus have delayed this potentially lifesaving exam. This is not good news given that early detection of breast cancer has a 90% survival rate. However, without an early diagnosis, that rate drops dramatically.

SDMI reminds patients that suspending their annual screening mammogram can have consequences. A recent Swedish study touts results showing Mammography can decrease the risk of breast cancer death by up to 41 percent.  “The current study, observing more than half a million women over many years, leaves no doubt that screening has been effective in reducing the risk of death from breast cancer,” (To read the full study recount click here)

As patients determine what procedures are essential for them, SDMI has implemented several safety precautions with a goal to empower patients to take an active role and prioritize their healthcare.

When you arrive at an SDMI facility, you can trust that sanitation and cleanliness have always been a promise made to patients, ensuring facilities are spotlessly clean. Not only do the staff and leadership teams insist on clean facilities, it is an integral part of the AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care) Accreditation as well as ACR DICOE (American College of Radiology Diagnostic Center of Excellence) certification both of which are held at all SDMI facilities across the valley.

Since March, SDMI has enhanced their safety and security measures even further to protect staff and patients as well as put them at ease. Screeners are stationed at the entrance of every location to take temperatures, ensure everyone is wearing a mask and offer hand sanitizer. Additionally, each patient is given a brand new pen that is theirs to use throughout their visit and take home after exams are completed. Waiting areas are clearly marked to encourage physical distance and no guests (unless necessary) are allowed to accompany patients to their appointment.

Mammograms and other screening studies are easily delayed due to busy schedules or any number of reasons, but fear of an unsafe experience should never be a factor when deciding to schedule a potentially lifesaving exam. We are always here for you.  

Photo: Courtesy of Steinberg Diagnostic Medical Imaging

Do not delay stroke care.

During the pandemic, Valley Hospital Medical Center has implemented many processes and protocols to help ensure the health and safety of patients, physicians, staff and the community.

These measures include:

  • Greeters screening all patients, visitors, staff and physicians entering our hospital with temperature checks for everyone
  • Required universal masking for anyone entering the facility
  • Advanced cleaning technology with UV lights and deep cleaning and disinfection protocols
  • Social distancing whenever possible
  • Establishment of guidelines and treatment protocols for caring for COVID-19 patients

These implemented changes ensure every patient is safe and provided the highest level of care.

Valley Hospital Medical Center CEO, Claude Wise understands why some people might be scared and afraid to visit their healthcare provider due to COVID-19 but emphasizes the importance of seeking care when needed.

“Our hospital is safe and ready to care for you. We do not want to see people avoiding physicians and hospitals that could have long-term negative consequences on people’s health and well-being.”

It is especially important to seek care when someone might be having a stroke. According to the American Stroke Association:

  • Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Every year, approx. 795,000 individuals have a stroke in the United States
  • That means every 40 seconds someone has a stroke
  • Additionally, someone dies every 4 minutes from stroke – about 140,000 Americans each year

Early action can make a difference. That is why it is important to know the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke. 

Remember B.E.F.A.S.T

B – Balance – Sudden loss of balance, severe vertigo
E – Eyes – Loss of vision in one or both eyes, onset of double vision
F – Face – Uneven or drooping face, drooling
A – Arm – Loss of strength or sensation on one side of the body in the arm and/or leg 
S – Speech – Slurring of speech, difficulty saying words or understanding what is being said, sudden confusion
T – Terrible Headache – Very severe headache that has maximum intensity within seconds to minutes

Wise adds, “The treatment window for stoke is very limited which is why every minute is important. We recommend that you call 911 and/or visit the Emergency Department right away.”

Valley Hospital Medical Center is part of a select group of hospital providers focused on complex stroke care, providing advanced technology, resources, staff and training to diagnose and treat people with the most complex types of stroke. In fact, the hospital recently received certification as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center from The Joint Commission. Valley is  one of only three Comprehensive Stroke Centers in Las Vegas and the only Comprehensive Stroke facility in Nevada to receive this designation and have a neurology residency program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or (ACGME).  In fact,  there are only 208 Comprehensive Stroke Centers in the United States.  

Whether providing advanced, life-saving treatment for heart attack or stroke or emergency care, the physicians, nurses and staff at Valley Hospital Medical Center are delivering trusted, quality patient care every hour, every day, as well as a superior healthcare experience.

Photo:  Valley Hospital has achieved The Joint Commission (TJC) Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification. The designation offers the ability to provide the highest and most advanced levels of stroke treatment available to our community and beyond. Thanks to Valley’s Comprehensive Stroke team, Emergency Department, Leadership, Dr. Davidson, Dr. Agrawal, Dr. Janda, AMR, MedicWest, Clark County Fire, Mercy Air, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue and Community Ambulance for their dedication and support.