As the COVID-19 pandemic took more lives during the summer, an important medical story — with ramifications for not only Southern Nevada but also the entire state — received little attention.
In August, Daniel Mathis, CEO of PureCare Living, a Las Vegas-based health care management company, announced that the UNLV School of Medicine department of pediatrics will lead medical services and programs for Southern Nevada’s newest pediatric skilled nursing facility, Silver State Pediatrics.
“It is a tremendous honor to have UNLV’s revered pediatric providers leading the health care services at Silver State Pediatrics,” Mathis said. “Our team is passionate about elevating pediatric health care in Southern Nevada so families do not have to leave the state for their child to receive the specialized care they need.”
Now in the final stretch of state licensing, the 36-bed facility located near the Las Vegas Medical District at 2496 W. Charleston Blvd. is designed for children with post-traumatic injuries, ranging from gunshot wounds to car accidents, as well as for children with birth defects and cognitive and physical development needs. It also will offer respite care for parents of children with special needs. Treatment for some pediatric patients can take months.
Dr. Evelyn Montalvo Stanton, chair of UNLV’s pediatric department, noted that “pediatricians in the community will now be able to refer patients to a specialized facility within Las Vegas.”
Dr. David Parks, a UNLV associate professor and pediatric pulmonologist, will serve as the facility’s medical director, overseeing patient services as well as student clinical rotations and residencies. Parks is joined by other UNLV pediatric subspecialists, including pediatric gastroenterologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric endocrinologists, and pediatric infectious disease experts.
Parks, a Harvard graduate who attended the University of Florida College of Medicine prior to practicing in the U.S. Navy, points out that members of the Silver State staff will include a pediatric dietician, experienced pediatric nurses, respiratory therapists, and child-life specialists as well as occupational, physical, and speech therapists.
He also said equipment at the 22,442-square-foot facility is state-of-the-art, including monitors, ventilators, and neurofeedback therapy. Parks said many of the patients who will be treated will have had tracheostomies and need ventilators to help them breathe.
“Nevada families really need this facility,” said Parks, who has been serving the Las Vegas community since 1994 as a pediatric pulmonologist, first in private practice and then in academic medicine, initially with the UNR Medical School. “When your child is sick, you don’t want to compound a very difficult situation by having to leave home.”
“The UNLV School of Medicine and our clinical practice, UNLV Medicine, are about helping transform health care in Southern Nevada,” he said. “We want to help further the evidence-based and compassionate treatment of Nevadans of all ages and Silver State gives us another way of doing that.”
In recent months, the UNLV medical team has played a critical role in COVID-19 testing and treatment in Southern Nevada. The school’s medical professionals remain on the front lines, treating COVID-19 patients at UMC and helping with a vaccination program.
It doesn’t take long for medical students to understand the medical school’s commitment to Southern Nevada.
In their first year, they must conduct community health assessments in area neighborhoods. Such assessments are a major tool used in population health to determine need and possible targets for positive change.
Parks said the Silver State facility also will add an important dimension to the clinical education of UNLV School of Medicine students and residents. “Once this facility gets running smoothly, it will be helpful to the medical and general community in so many ways,” he said.
Many of the children and adolescents with special needs and developmental disabilities that will be served by Silver State, Parks said, will have pulmonary complications brought on by traumatic accidents and by medical challenges, including cerebral palsy and other neurological problems. “The net effect is an increased respiratory effort, decreased vital capacity, and unequal lung ventilation resulting in risk of respiratory failure,” said Parks.
While understanding that the work at Silver State will be challenging, Parks is confident that his medical team is up to the task.
“The Silver State Pediatric nursing facility has an experienced, multidisciplinary team assembled that can manage the multitude of problems faced by children and adolescents with special needs,” he said. “We look forward to serving the Las Vegas community.”