Veterans' hope


It's a place where the nation's wounded warriors -- both young and old -- can heal.

The VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System's new North Las Vegas medical center complex, 6900 N. Pecos Road, is scheduled for completion in November.

The $600 million project is on target for its expected 2012 opening.

City officials said they hope the complex will become an economic hub that strengthens health-care education partnerships among the VA, the city and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Terri Sheridan, the city's economic development administrator, said the medical complex "will play a pivotal role in our being able to attract businesses."

"Our goal is to utilize the VA to tell other types of businesses considering locating in North Las Vegas that we've got this," Sheridan said. "The VA choosing to locate here helps draw businesses that might not have thought of North Las Vegas before. We're using this as another tool in our toolbox to point out our differences (from other cities).

"We're looking forward to the long-term impact this will have here. It's an iconic facility for North Las Vegas."

The $365 million, 790,000-square-foot hospital, at Pecos Road and the Las Vegas Beltway, will include 90 beds for inpatient and mental health care , diagnostic and treatment clinics and administration facilities.

A 120-bed nursing home and extended care unit also will be available to veterans on campus.

There are about 50,000 veterans valleywide.

Steve Stern, special assistant to the director and responsible for capital asset management with the VA, said four outpatient clinics are being built throughout the valley that coincide with the new hospital.

Clinic locations are at South Buffalo Drive at West Warm Springs Road, Boulder Highway at Racetrack Road, North Rancho Drive at West Alexander Road and East Charleston Boulevard at South Lamb Boulevard.

Between the medical complex and the clinics, the full impact of new jobs stands between 800 and 900, for which they're in the process of hiring, Stern said. The North Las Vegas medical center complex is expected to have 2,000 staff members when it opens.

"Las Vegas has had limited medical facilities," Stern said. "A lot of veterans have to travel to Southern California for their health care. A major advantage to this is it saves the veterans and their families from traveling out of state."

The complex is designed for environmentally friendly energy savings. Stern added that "green" technologies include 3.2 megawatts of solar power to offset the facility's utility needs. The bid for this project is slated for next month.

Officials from the city of North Las Vegas and UNLV toured the facility March 9.

"A huge factor for us is the education process," Stern said. "We have an auditorium part of the expansion phase that I'm developing now that will be a training and education facility. The whole center is dedicated to education and training."

Plans to complete UNLV's North Campus have stalled because of poor economic conditions. Campus officials originally had anticipated the completion of the first building if capital funds were authorized by the 2013 state legislative session.

David James, the associate provost for academic programs, said a partnership with the VA could take place in absence of a north campus.

The school offers health sciences programs including physical therapy, nutrition and dental.

"Now would be the time for an institution like UNLV to start establishing relationships with directors of various programs, such as the director of nursing, to see if partnerships could be established," James said. "This is a huge benefit to the community because it will bring jobs, so there's the direct economic benefit, but secondly, this will service a regional population of veterans, a community that is underserved."

Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

 

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