The Henderson and North Las Vegas offices of a clinic at the center of a massive health alert were shut down by officials in the cities Tuesday.
Citing the public health emergency, officials in both cities ordered the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada to cease operations, effectively shuttering all but one of the group's facilities in the valley.
A Las Vegas office of the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada, 3150 Tenaya Way, remained open as of late afternoon Tuesday.
Clark County officials on Monday shut down three clinics owned by the medical group. Three days earlier, Las Vegas officials closed an endoscopy center on Shadow Lane where investigators found that staff reused syringes, contaminating vials of medication and infecting six people with hepatitis C.
Health officials have sent 40,000 letters to that clinic's patients, urging them to get tested for hepatitis C and B and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Henderson's action came after a city inspector was locked out of the medical group's office at 2610 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Suite 105.
City spokeswoman Cindy Herman said the inspector was allowed inside at first, but when he went out to his vehicle to get some business cards and other information, the office's front door was bolted shut behind him.
The city immediately moved to suspend the office's business license after that, Herman said.
"When they denied us access, it brings a lot of questions to the forefront that we were not able to answer. When they decided to shut the doors and deny us access ... they basically closed their doors to the public themselves."
Henderson City Councilman Steve Kirk said the inspector was there to gather information, not close the facility. But Kirk, who serves as chairman of the Southern Nevada Health District board of directors, wasn't disappointed by the outcome.
"In my opinion, they ought to never be able to open again," he said. "It's unconscionable what they've done, quite frankly. I think everyone is outraged."
Within hours of Henderson's action, North Las Vegas officials ordered a similar office at 1815 E. Lake Mead Blvd., Suite 207, to close its doors.
The cease and desist order, signed by city Business License Manager Lana Hammond, said in part, "Your demonstrated willful failure to observe long accepted and mandated medical sanitary protocols jeopardizes the health and safety of all citizens of the City of North Las Vegas."
Operation of the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada "constitutes a public nuisance," the order said.
The city tried to hand deliver the order, but the center already was closed Tuesday afternoon.
Calls to the center were met with a recording that said the office was closed, then listed its regular business hours as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The order was slipped under the center's door, said Brenda S. Fischer, a city spokeswoman.
Fischer said North Las Vegas has no evidence that patients were being exposed to deadly diseases at the Lake Mead Boulevard center. But the city issued the order as a precaution "to protect the health and welfare of the citizens of North Las Vegas," she said.
North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The center can appeal the order at the March 19 North Las Vegas City Council meeting if it notifies the city of the intent to do so by noon on March 12.
The license suspension in Henderson will come up for review by the City Council on March 18. Owners of the office could face fines and misdemeanor charges if they try to reopen the facility before then.
According to city records, the medical office has been licensed by Henderson at that location since 2003.
The city has posted details about the license suspension on its Web site, with a link to information from the Southern Nevada Health District about what the public should do after the closures.
A handful of people, some of them patients, stopped by the medical office Tuesday afternoon after hearing about the license suspension on the news.
One man who did not give his name said his wife had an appointment the next day and was waiting for the results of a procedure conducted last week at one of the medical group's facilities.
As he drove away, the man said, "I'm not happy about this, as you can imagine."
Another man, who also declined to give his name, said he drove to the office in Henderson because he hoped someone would be there to tell him what to do. What he found instead was a locked door with a notice from the city taped to it.
He said the office recently referred him to its Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, 4275 Burnham Ave.
The precautionary test was not his first choice, but he had it done just to make sure his colon cancer had not returned.
"It's the scandal of all scandals," the man said. "Now I've got to go get a test for this hepatitis because of something I didn't want in the first place."
Review-Journal write Jennifer Robison contributed to this report. Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0350. Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at email@example.com or (702) 383-0285.