The Las Vegas Medical District is evolving as one of Southern Nevada’s most important healthcare and economic development projects.
By Faiss Foley Warren Public Relations
Established by the Las Vegas City Council in 1997 to physically bring together a variety of medical services and providers near and around UMC (University Medical Center), the Las Vegas Medical District (LVMD) was created with the goal to expand and improve medical care in Southern Nevada. But due to market conditions and economic challenges, the District sat stagnant for years. Today, under the city’s visionary leadership and collaboration with the Las Vegas medical and health care community, it is evolving as one of the most important, if not THE most important, economic development projects in Southern Nevada, while simultaneously uplifting the quality and access of healthcare in our community.
To quantify its impact, the LVMD is expected to have by 2030 an economic impact of $3.6 billion, generate more than 24,000 jobs and create state general fund revenues of more than $181 million, according to Tripp Umbach, a national economic consulting firm.
Centrally located in downtown Las Vegas, the LVMD’s physical boundaries were expanded in 2015 to include nearby centers of employment, such as Symphony Park, home of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. And through relationship-building, the city of Las Vegas is helping to strengthen the bonds with the new UNLV School of Medicine that welcomed its first class of 60 students in July 2017. The UNLV School of Medicine is not only playing a foundational role in the establishment and growth of the LVMD, it is on track to forever change and improve medicine in Southern Nevada.
Today, the LVMD encompasses approximately 684 acres with the 214 core acres of the district generally bounded by Charleston Boulevard on the south, Rancho Drive on the west, Alta Drive on the north, and Martin L. King Boulevard on the east. The growth of the medical industry is key to Southern Nevada’s economic diversification strategy and the LVMD will help attract new, high-paying employers to the region as well as advance a higher quality of life. Further development of the LVMD will provide jobs, bolster the health of Southern Nevadans and stimulate development near the city of Las Vegas’ vital assets downtown like Fremont East, Symphony Park and the 18B Arts District.
Currently operating within the LVMD are seven institutions of higher learning (UNLV School of Medicine, UNLV School of Dental Medicine, Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, Milan Institute, Touro University, UNLV School of Medicine Ackerman Center of Autism and Neurodevelopment Solutions; four hospitals (UMC; Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC; Valley Hospital Medical Center; Horizon Specialty Hospital of Las Vegas); two imaging centers (Desert Radiology and Steinberg Diagnostic Medical Imaging); and one medical center dedicated to research and treatment of brain diseases (Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health).
Representatives from each of these medical facilities comprise the Las Vegas Medical District Advisory Council, a group that is actively participating in the evolution of the District, weighing in on such topics as land use, new medical businesses, expansions, safety and the development of initiatives to further District goals. The Advisory Council also sets the vision for the district, which provides a guide for the membership.
A second group, the Planning Committee, is charged with management of the District’s long-range planning, including but not limited to infrastructure, parking, signage and zoning.
Long concerned with quality of life and access to healthcare, the city of Las Vegas played a major role in the city’s 2015 development and completion of an LVMD master plan that is guiding its comprehensive development to include new facilities, infrastructure and other critical needs. The LVMD Master Plan also calls for a unified branding and marketing strategy to develop greater awareness and enhance public perception of the quality of medical care in Southern Nevada. To that end, an LVMD PR and Marketing committee comprised of marketing professionals from each of the facilities in the District was formed. The group is now meeting regularly and working hard to define the LVMD’s brand and develop strategies and tactics to increase awareness and enhance the profile of this emerging area that is single-handedly changing medical care in our community.
While ambitious, the goal of LVMD is already coming to fruition with the opening of the UNLV School of Medicine and the cooperative work of existing medical facilities that are now united in their vision to help develop what is known as an Academic Health Center.
Not a physical center, an Academic Health Center is a robust system of medical facilities and services, including but not limited to a medical school, one or more additional health profession schools and an affiliated teaching hospital. There are approximately 45 Academic Health Centers in the country, all in major metropolitan areas. Thus, the establishment of an Academic Health Center is a huge advancement for our region that has been so lacking in this area. In Las Vegas, our emerging Academic Health Center will be comprised of the UNLV School of Medicine and the university’s health science schools, including nursing and dentistry; an affiliation with UMC that will serve as the primary teaching hospital; and an integrated network of regional health care delivery institutions throughout the district and the valley.
Recognizing the scope of this initiative to develop a true medical district, city staff and the Las Vegas City Council have played a major role in ensuring the LVMD master plan is integrated into surrounding neighborhoods and the greater southern Nevada community at large. The city recognized from inception the need to link the LVMD with all its stakeholders – both from a physical and socio-economic perspective. City leaders understand first-hand that nothing happens on such a large scale without collaboration. That’s why the city has dedicated several staff members to devote significant time and resources to masterfully and skillfully bring stakeholders together through ongoing meetings, conversations and town halls to build esprit de corps among the various communities.
In fact, the city hosted its first ever LVMD town hall meeting in January 2017 that attracted more than 200 people and received considerable media coverage – all of it positive. A second town hall meeting is planned for February 2018. “Meet the new face of medicine in Southern Nevada” is the theme of this event that will spotlight students from multiple schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy.
The city of Las Vegas is easily considered one of the valley’s most innovative municipalities for its work and persistence in helping to establish and to grow a much needed center of medicine in Southern Nevada. It is well known that our community’s reputation for quality medical care has long been less than stellar. Under the city’s active and actionable leadership, that reputation is already starting to change.
“There is a no more noble goal than to create a global center of medicine in Southern Nevada that will improve the quality of medicine in our community, enhance access to medical care and serve as a catalyst for synergistic economic development,” said Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman, city of Las Vegas. “The Las Vegas Medical District is positioned to do all this and more. It’s both gratifying and exciting to see it take shape as envisioned and become the region’s true center of medicine – right here in the heart of our city.”