Endoscopy clinic license hearing set


The city of Las Vegas ordered 15 people to attend a hearing Monday on revoking the business license of the endoscopy clinic at the center of Southern Nevada's health crisis, including the doctors who owned it and nurses who worked there.

But apparently not everyone will comply.

"I have heard that some of the individuals associated with the clinic are not going to appear," said City Attorney Brad Jerbic.

The hearing on the Gastroenterology Center of Southern Nevada -- the name under which the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada at 700 Shadow Lane was licensed -- is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Monday in the Las Vegas City Council chambers.

Mayor Oscar Goodman told the city attorney's office to subpoena the clinic's principals, who are listed on the complaint as Drs. Dipak Desai, Vishvinder Sharma, Eladio Carrera and Clifford Carrol, as well as nurses from the center.

He also wanted Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District; Brian Labus, its senior epidemiologist; and someone from the Nevada State Board of Nursing, along with "any other witnesses that you feel are pertinent so that we can have a full and complete resolution."

Jennifer Sizemore, a spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District, said the agency did receive an administrative subpoena from the city requiring Sands and Labus attend Monday's meeting.

Jerbic said he didn't know specifically who was not going to show up.

The lawyer handling the case for the city, Bill Henry, and two attorneys working for the clinic did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

"We will proceed with the hearing regardless," Jerbic said.

When the hearing starts, the City Council will take note of which witnesses are present.

Las Vegas city code says that if someone ignores a City Council order to appear, the city can ask a District Court judge for another subpoena. Ignoring the District Court subpoena could result in arrest and punishment on a contempt of court charge.

The council might not need to take that step, if the witnesses who show up are enough to present the city's case that the clinic should lose its business license, Jerbic said.

If the health officials investigating the clinic are in attendance, "my guess is Bill (Henry) will tell them we're ready to proceed," Jerbic said.

Labus and Sands are expected to provide information on the health district's investigation into the hepatitis C outbreak.

The hearing will be semi-judicial. The city's attorney will act as prosecutor, and the clinic's owners will probably be represented by several lawyers.

Each side can call witnesses, and each side can cross-examine the other's witnesses. Testimony is given under oath.

Las Vegas suspended the endoscopy clinic's business license Feb. 29, two days after investigators disclosed the unsafe practices and hepatitis C cases.

Health officials believe six people contracted the blood-borne virus because of unsafe injection practices at the Shadow Lane facility.

A seventh case is tied to a 2006 procedure at Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center at 4275 Burnham Ave., an affiliated clinic.

On March 19, the council issued a formal complaint alleging that the center was a "public nuisance" that conducted business in "an unlawful, illegal and impermissible manner."

Review-Journal writer Annette Wells contributed to this report. Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal. com or 702-229-6435.

 

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