Ex-UMC chief of staff: Hospital’s new governing board needs a doctor

When it starts meeting, the new governing board for University Medical Center won’t have a doctor on its eight-member panel.

The public hospital’s new board, created by Clark County commissioners to provide oversight of UMC’s affairs, will face decisions in the months ahead. The first might be whether board members want to add one more member, bringing the board’s size to the nine-member limit. The board starts meeting later this month.

If they go that route, members aren’t required to tap a doctor for membership. Instead, the county’s ordinance that created the board encourages a broader goal of having members with a diverse skill set.

The board legally can stay at eight members or even drop as low as five. Anyone the hospital board recommends faces approval from county commissioners.

Dr. Leonard Kreisler, who was chief of staff at UMC prior to retiring in 1990, is one of eight doctors who put their names forward for consideration out of a pool of 36 applicants.

Kreisler said officials should consider what a doctor could bring to the board, stressing that anyone picked should be independent and “come with no baggage.” He said a doctor could help UMC with issues such as being patient friendly, attracting more insured patients and improving retention of specialty physicians.

“Doctors are an integral part of the hospital, you would think,” he said. “And you want one that doesn’t have to be an angel but at least have the hospital as their priority — not money and the gods that they worship in Las Vegas.”

Originally, the new board was to have a physician as its ninth member.

Dr. Anthony Marlon withdrew from consideration following the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s report that he had a federal misdemeanor conviction from 1991 for giving false information about his company’s contract to provide health insurance to federal employees in Nevada.

Larry Gage, a consultant who has helped the county plan for the new hospital board, said the new board could very well pick a doctor and add a ninth member.

But he said it’s not necessarily the only option, noting that a hospital board typically will have access to the expertise of doctors to tap as a resource.

Other skills, such as negotiating major contracts for healthcare companies, are equally valuable for a board member to have. Diversity is the aim for a board, he said.

“You need people who bring multiple things to the board,” said Gage, a founder and former president of the National Association of Public Hospitals.

County commissioners will wait and see what the new board decides on the issue.

“I’m sure once the new board is in place, they’ll look at the whole dynamics of the board,” said Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who is chairman when commissioners vote as the UMC Board of Trustees.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak said it would be favorable to have someone with a medical background and no conflicts of interest on the UMC board, adding that it’s for the new board to decide.

“They’ve got the flexibility,” he said.

The interest from the initial pool of applicants shows that doctors in Southern Nevada are willing to serve on the board. The new board, if it selects another member, isn’t limited to previous applicants and could recruit someone.

Recruitment of potential board members happened before the slate of nine members was put forward. Six of the original nine, including Marlon, were asked to apply.

Application records show other doctors who stepped forward for consideration included Dr. Rachakonda D. Prabhu, owner of a medical practice that includes sleep centers and surgical centers; Dr. Russell Shah, a neurologist; Dr. Nick Spirtos, medical director of the Women’s Cancer Center of Nevada; Dr. Paul Stewart of Pulmonary Associates; and Dr. Lesley Dickson, a psychiatrist.

The committee that reviewed applicants decided that three of the applying doctors had business conflicts that would prevent membership, typically contracts for services between their clinics and UMC that they disclosed on applications.

Barbara Robinson, a former member of the UMC Advisory Board, which the county ended in 2012, said having doctors on that particular board was helpful.

“It’s going to take time for anyone to assess what’s happening at UMC,” she said, adding that she wishes the new board well. “Having a doctor on it would be helpful if they had a retired doctor who was not affiliated with the hospital and somebody who could offer expertise as to how’s the best way to practice medicine.”

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.


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