Advisory board chosen to help UMC evolve into research, teaching hospital

Mix together several doctors, a lawyer, a couple of medical insurance agents, a union official and a few businesspeople and you have a recipe for lively debate or heated squabbling.

Clark County commissioners Wednesday chose 11 people with these diverse backgrounds for an advisory board they hope will make University Medical Center become more efficient and evolve into a teaching hospital.

The appointees were culled from 123 applicants. UMC officials shortened the initial list to a couple of dozen candidates and commissioners chose the final 11.

The board will help commissioners, who lack medical expertise, oversee a hospital that has struggled with finances and image in recent years.

It will weigh in on medical policies, contracts with vendors and quality control.

It will monitor the hospital’s finances and ensure that the county’s hospital complies with state and federal laws.

The commission will still have the final word about UMC’s budget, labor contracts and whether to eliminate services.

"I think this is a milestone," commission Chairman Rory Reid said. "You had seven politicians turn an incredible amount of power over to 11 citizens."

County Manager Virginia Valentine said having experts keep an eye on operations will help county leaders spot problems they might otherwise have missed.

Reid has said creating the advisory board was an important step in turning UMC into a full-fledged research and teaching hospital that could help the county unload a financial burden. UMC rang up an $80 million deficit last year.

Advisory board members and their classifications are:

■ Two health-care purchasers: Dr. Anthony Marlon, former board chairman for Sierra Health Services; Bobbette Bond, executive director of the Nevada Healthcare Policy Group and public policy director of the Culinary Health Fund.

■ Labor: Amber Lopez Lasater, chief of staff for Service Employees International Union Local 1107.

■ Civic leader: Elizabeth Vasquez Gallagher, assistant secretary treasurer of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce.

■ Two community doctors: Dr. Robert McBeath, a UMC urologist; and Dr. Nick Spirtos, oncologist and gynecologist.

■ Two public health leaders: Dr. John Ruckdeschel, chief executive of the Nevada Cancer Institute; Dr. Dwayne Murray, partner at Neu Beginning Eldercare Services.

■ Legal: Barbara Robinson, Las Vegas attorney.

■ Two business leaders: Harry Hagerty, UMC Foundation’s president and treasurer; Ashok Mirchandani, real estate broker.

Members will be paid $100 per diem for an average of 15 hours of monthly meetings and work. Meetings will be open to the public in a venue yet to be determined.

Commissioners had mild disagreements during selection. They split on a few candidates, and a couple of commissioners nominated applicants not on the short list.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak questioned one candidate’s ties to Sierra Health, saying he didn’t want board members serving two masters. A staffer assured him that the applicant, Marlon, was no longer with the company.

Sisolak said he was initially concerned that Bond’s job with the Culinary Union might give the board a second labor representative. But he said hospital officials insisted her role will be to offer expertise on health care, and their explanation allayed his concerns.

"I think it’s a good mix of people," Sisolak said.

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at or 702-455-4519.

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