Dr. Marc J. Kahn
Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 | 2 a.m.
As he does every August, Brian Greenspun is taking some time off and is turning over his Where I Stand column to others. Todays guest columnist is Marc J. Kahn, dean of the UNLV School of Medicine.
For a moment, lets imagine Las Vegas as the premier city for health care in the U.S.
For a reality check, currently, according to the Commonwealth Fund, Nevada ranks 48th in the country for overall health care. Nevada is similarly 50th for access to and affordability of health care, 51st for prevention and treatment and 39th for the healthiness of the population. Clearly, we can and need to do better.
UNLV Photo Services
Dr. Marc J. Kahn
How do we get there?
We continue to grow an academic health center.
UNLV School of Medicine was founded in 2014 and its first class matriculated in the summer of 2017. The schools mission is to care for the community of Southern Nevada and to do this by working with the other UNLV health sciences schools including nursing, dental medicine, public health and integrative health. By also partnering with University Medical Center and other local hospitals, we are forming the valleys first academic health center.
Fortunately, we have a good foundation on which to build.
Consider how the medical school has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic: We engineered and maintained the longest continuously running curbside test sites, helping to diagnose more than 18,000 Nevadans, among the first testing facilities to help diagnose the disease in the valley.
The young medical school recruited a blood services partner to bring convalescent plasma to the valley to help treat the sickest people suffering from the virus. UNLV and its partners were also able to provide research and insight into the epidemiology of the infection and to help hotels and casinos open in a safer fashion.
We also have world-class researchers studying Alzheimers disease, a trauma center where 96% of patients estimated to have a less than 1% chance of survival actually go home, and we have a faculty member studying the role of stem cells to fight heart disease.
Academic health centers are more than buildings, hospitals and medical schools. They are a network of medical and research facilities staffed by caring health care professionals, men and women who work together to provide the best evidence-based care for patients. By their very nature, academic health centers are deeply embedded in the communities they serve. In addition to caring for patients, they engage in research to provide novel technologies to fight human diseases such as COVID-19. They provide quality health care 71% of the nations level-one trauma centers and 98% of the nations comprehensive cancer centers are in academic health centers. Although accounting for only 5% of all hospitals in the U.S., academic health centers provide over 40% of charity care consistent with their mission to serve their communities. Finally, studies have shown that patients treated in academic health centers have up to a 20% higher likelihood of survival.
Lets imagine what a mature academic health center could mean for the residents of Southern Nevada.
For our community, the UNLV School of Medicine and the academic health center as a whole, have plans for staffing clinics for the underserved of Southern Nevada, where patients will receive medical, dental, mental health and preventative services regardless of ability to pay.
Over time, the academic health center as a whole will be able to provide additional novel treatments for cancer, stroke, cognitive disorders, diabetes and heart disease, while employing vast numbers of Nevadans contributing significantly to the local economy.
Lets imagine a time when Nevada, known as a tourist destination, can attract patients from throughout the U.S. to get top-notch health care in one of the worlds most unique cities.
Lets imagine the future where the newest, most promising medical technologies are homegrown through colleges and universities right here in Nevada.
Lets imagine when our ability to care for all of our residents serves as a model for the rest of the country.
And it will not be just UNLV. The valley is fortunate to have Touro University, which has an osteopathic medical school. Las Vegas also has affiliated medical residencies in several hospital systems and plans to have a new medical school at Roseman University for the Health Sciences. All contribute to the welfare of our residents.
Are we there yet? No. But with the continued support of our state, colleges and universities, philanthropists and the residents of Las Vegas, we can get there. Thinking big, settling only for the best, garnishing all of our resources and being creative and nimble, we will get there sooner, rather than later.
Dr. Marc J. Kahn is dean of the UNLV School of Medicine, where he also serves as a professor.
See the article here:
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