Steinberg Diagnostic Medical Imaging’s new Technical Director.

Steinberg Diagnostic Medical Imaging (SDMI) announces the promotion of Raymond Chow to Technical Director.  Chow, who previously served as SDMI’s Chief MRI Technologist, replaces Lona Van Boven who retired in January 2021 after working at SDMI for more than 40 years.

“Ray is the best person for the job,” said Van Boven. “He loves this company and what it stands for and will continue to embrace all the values which make SDMI the best,” she said of her successor.

Chow began his career with SDMI in 2000 as a UNLV student.  Three years later, he was promoted to MRI Lead, followed by a subsequent promotion two years later to Chief MRI Technologist. Over the years, Chow has overseen the implementation of new equipment and technology; he has conducted multiple safety trainings for SDMI employees and local fire departments; and true to the spirit of the SDMI mission, he happily serves as a go-to resource for patients with special MRI needs.

Transitioning from supporting solely MRI to serving as the resource for all ten modalities offered at SDMI seemed initially daunting to Chow, who is now enthusiastically embracing his increased responsibilities.

“Lorna’s shoes are amongst the biggest to fill and transitioning during a pandemic presents its own challenges” Chow said. “But I am embracing the challenge and look forward to continuing to keep SDMI a safe space for both employees and patients.”

Photo: Raymond Chow, new Technical Director at SDMI

OptumCare Cancer Center at LVMD gateway.

More than one in three people get some form of cancer during their lifetime, making the disease one of the most prevalent and costly medical conditions, according to the American Cancer Society.

Here in Nevada, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 14,000 people will have been diagnosed with cancer over the past year. Recent data from the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health shows that cancer, along with heart disease, is more likely to kill Nevadans than any other cause of death. 

To help combat this deadly disease and improve access to care, OptumCare™ built a new Cancer Center – a centrally located 55,000-square-foot treatment center that provides a new treatment option for local patients. The OptumCare™ Cancer Center opened its doors in 2019 at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive, at the gateway to the Las Vegas Medical District.

The services and level of care offered at the Cancer Center promote a higher level of cancer care in Nevada and provide patients with another local choice when seeking the right treatment. 

The significance of the Cancer Center goes well beyond bricks and mortar. With a focus on highly coordinated care, a holistic approach, individualized treatment plans, and shared decision-making between physicians and patients, the Cancer Center offers an extensive span of cancer treatments and services. 

Patients at the center benefit from a wide and increasing range of personalized services offered under one roof, including medical oncology, surgical oncology, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, breast care, imaging, nutrition and psycho-social services, palliative care, genetic counseling, laboratory services, and a patient and family resource library. By offering all these services in one location, patients benefit from a continuity of care and a dedicated cancer care team working together to meet their specific needs. The OptumCare Breast Care was recently established at the Center, offering breast care and surgery to patients in one location. 

The Cancer Center also features dozens of semi-private infusion centers for people undergoing chemotherapy, with plenty of natural light and space for friends and family. The infusion centers were built to maximize comfort and allow patients to connect while undergoing chemotherapy. 

The resource library offers patients and their families the opportunity to conduct research and remain as informed as possible. 

Another interesting aspect of the Cancer Center is the cause-based art that decorates the building. The unique artwork is created by artists with intellectual and related disabilities as part of the arts program at local nonprofit Opportunity Village.

Besides offering uniquely personalized and coordinated care for each patient, staff at the Cancer Center is committed to making the patient experience as pleasant and encouraging as possible. The services and treatments offer Las Vegans a close-to-home support and treatment option, rather than requiring them to leave Nevada to seek care. 

The Cancer Center is more than just a place for doctor visits and treatment. It’s a community resource that is a proud addition to the Las Vegas Medical District, helping  to advance the life-changing work being done in the district and serving as a catalyst for more growth in this vital area.

Las Vegans have long faced challenges when it comes to accessing highly specialized health care in a rapidly growing community. It’s something OptumCare Cancer Care is working to improve on a daily basis.

Photo: OptumCare Cancer Center exterior

Upcoming LVMD infrastructure projects.

Several significant and exciting infrastructure projects are planned to improve access and the ability to move easily and safely around the LVMD for both pedestrians and automobiles.

These include improvements along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. that were a part of Project Neon with enhancements to sidewalks, streetscape amenities and facilities; expanding transit service to strengthen linkages to Downtown and surrounding areas; creating a mixed-use hub that expands amenities such as open spaces and neighborhood retail for those who work at the District; developing a drought-tolerant greenway to create an appealing and walkable environment; and expanding the bike network to enhance the cycling experience and encourage public health. 

Roadway infrastructure improvements are planned to start in 2021 with the goal of improving pedestrian safety, traffic capacity, and utility reliability. Each project will include new sidewalks, streetlights, traffic signals, pavement, landscaping, utility improvements, and a variety of other roadway upgrades. 

The current Las Vegas Medical District Area Infrastructure Upgrade Program includes three areas and phases. Funding was secured from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) for the Shadow Lane project. The remaining projects are part of the RTC’s adopted 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan.

  • Phase one centers on Shadow Lane from Charleston Blvd. to Alta Dr. and Pinto Lane, as well as Shadow Lane to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  Phase one kicks off in first quarter 2021 and is expected to be complete by first quarter 2022.
  • Phase two revolves around Pinto Lane from Rancho Dr. to Shadow Lane and Charleston Blvd., and Rancho Dr. to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  It begins fourth quarter 2021 and is expected to be complete fourth quarter 2022.
  • Phase three centers on Rancho Dr. from Mesquite Ave. to Sahara Ave. and Rancho Lane, and on Rancho Dr. to Tonopah Dr.  It is planned to begin third quarter 2022 with completion scheduled for fourth quarter 2023.

See map showing location and timing.

Rendering: Civil FX rendering of Charleston at Shadow elevated perspective looking SE.

UNLV Medical workers power through long hours.

UNLV Medicine workers part of the COVID-19 battle as vaccine rollout is just beginning.

Three medical professionals from UNLV School of Medicine’s clinical practice, UNLV Medicine, are on the front lines of distributing a vaccine against a virus that’s already taken more than 400,000 American lives.

Gabriella “Gabby” Benitez, Tina Galindo, and Delicia Sullivan (pictured above) are assisting coronavirus vaccination efforts for those in health care, public safety, public health, and emergency first response. All three have been working long days vaccinating people at the student union, but the labor has had an energizing effect.

“I’m not tired after giving vaccinations,” said the 31-year-old Sullivan, who normally works as a medical assistant in the department of internal medicine. “I feel like I can run a marathon afterward. It’s such an honor to meet and help first responders, health care workers, police officers — so many people who are always helping our community. They thank me for being on the front lines helping them and I thank them for doing what they do for our country.”

Not long ago, however, Sullivan learned in a phone call that her mother had died.

“It was totally unexpected,” she said. “A blood clot came loose and filled her lungs with blood.”

Sullivan, who’s taking prerequisite courses at CSN to become a nurse, said her mother, who suffered from lupus, had helped her care for her two young children, Jayden, 12, and Journie, 9.

Three days after her mother died, Sullivan was back vaccinating people.

“My mother, who I cared for after she got lupus, was my rock. My mom said my biggest problem is that I didn’t believe in myself like I should. But I’m going to show my mother that I can make my dreams come true with her help,” she said. “I still talk to her every day. I found a babysitter for my kids. And I’m going to go on and become a registered nurse and then I’m going to be a doctor, exactly as I told my mother in 1997 when was diagnosed with lupus.”

Like Sullivan, Benitez, who’s also a medical assistant in the department of internal medicine, has found purpose in vaccinating people against COVID-19.

“It’s really remarkable to be part of something that can help so many people,” she said. “Every time I give a vaccination, I know this person will always remember it. To be one of the first people doing this, I feel special and honored. People are so excited. They know this is history. They take selfies.”

Not a serious student in high school, Benitez says that once she took a desk job at a medical clinic, she knew health care was for her. She became a medical assistant and is now studying to become a nurse.

For Galindo, a senior clinic manager in the UNLV Medicine’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, vaccinating people has given her “overwhelming satisfaction.”

“One lady started crying. She told me how thankful she was that I was doing this. I told her how thankful I was that she came in for her vaccination. Because of her and others, I told her that we can get this pandemic under control,” Galindo said.

Galindo also helped with UNLV Medicine’s curbside testing program.

The mother of two sons, ages 29 and 13, Galindo is also a grandmother. While her 13-year-old studies at night, she does, too. Galindo is earning an online degree in health care administration from Purdue University.

Originally, Galindo thought about becoming a lawyer. But babysitting for an OB-GYN who used to tell her stories about delivering babies, coupled with a part-time medical records job in high school, convinced her that health care was the way to go. She became a medical assistant, and she’s moved up to supervisory roles in both the clinical and operational sides of medicine.

“I drive in now at 6:30 in the morning and don’t get home until 7 at night,” Galindo said. “I’m very tired afterwards, but I wouldn’t want to change anything. I feel an overwhelming pride in what I’m doing. I want to save as many lives as I can.”

Photo: Courtesy of UNLV School of Medicine – Delicia Sullivan preparing vaccination

Cleveland Clinic receives grants to study FDA-approved cancer drug for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dual studies aim to determine if the repurposed drug safely and effectively reduces inflammatory and disease-associated biomarkers, and improves cognition in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

The National Institute of Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) awarded five-year grants of $3.2 million and $1.4 million, respectively, to scientists from Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to study the therapeutic potential of the anti-cancer drug lenalidomide in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The funding will support the project “Repurposing Lenalidomide for Early Alzheimer’s Treatment” led by Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., and Boris Decourt, Ph.D., of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The project is comprised of two complementary clinical studies aimed at identifying whether lenalidomide reduces inflammation and other disease-related neuropathological features and improves cognition in those living with mild cognitive impairment.

Lenalidomide is one of few multi-purpose agents, which has demonstrated several effects on the immune system in cancer patients.

“To date, disease-modifying therapies have only used a single drug approach to target Alzheimer’s disease pathologies, and they have all failed. These grants will help us explore a novel approach in reducing several pathologies simultaneously,” said Dr. Sabbagh, director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “With its dual mechanistic nature, lenalidomide is particularly intriguing because it has the potential to both reduce chronic inflammation and lower amyloid beta loads in the brain, which are both indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The two lenalidomide sister studies will recruit participants with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease/MCI at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The first study is funded by the NIH and is a 20-month Phase II investigation evaluating the effect of long-term use of lenalidomide on cognition, along with safety and tolerability.

The second study, supported by ADDF funding, is a six-month Phase II investigation examining the short-term use of lenalidomide in 45 participants, with a focus on safety and effects on blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers. Dr. Sabbagh’s work is also supported by the Camille and Larry Ruvo Endowed Chair for Brain Health.

For additional information about Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, visit ClevelandClinic.org/Nevada.

Photo: Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health