Facility to serve intellectually challenged seniors

Sally Marcus said she often worried about what would happen to her intellectually challenged daughter Sharen Golbois as they both aged. But with plans for Nevada’s first medical clinic and senior home for these individuals reaching fruition after years of planning at the groundbreaking Oct. 2 in Centennial Hills, Marcus said she’s relieved.

“She’s going to be 42 years old, and it’s great that there’s going to be somebody close by when she needs treatment, when she needs help,” Marcus said about her daughter.

Golbois already is supported by New Vista, the nonprofit organization that launched its first phase of construction, and she will be eligible for the senior homes when she turns 50. She and her mother agree that New Vista helps Golbois be as independent as possible.

“The organization seeks to give them a life as close to normal as possible without putting them into an institution,” said Marcus, a board member of the nonprofit group.

New Vista partnered with Touro University Nevada to launch construction of the $1.2 million medical center and senior home that is said to be the first of its kind in the state, said Kelly DeGuzman, CEO of New Vista. Construction of the first of six phases is expected to be complete by next summer.

Not only a place for patients to get specialized care, the medical clinic will help teach students at Touro University Nevada about the unique challenges facing this population.

Intellectually challenged people often are lumped into other programs as they age, said New Vista’s board of directors president, Lisa Mariani. “… What’s happening to individuals who had reached their golden years and what was happening to those individuals being put in Alzheimer’s (disease) facilities and how tragic that was because they didn’t need the care that folks with Alzheimer’s (disease) have,” Mariani said. “They need specialized care.”

The partnership between the school and nonprofit group began when DeGuzman and staff members approached Touro University Nevada’s faculty for advice about the facility, said Dr. Mitchell Forman, dean of the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“The more we heard about this project – the more we saw what was being done – the more eager we were to become part of this phenomenal venture,” he said.

He said he sees the partnership as a win-win. Together, Touro University Nevada and New Vista plan to help serve those who cannot get specialized care elsewhere and develop a curriculum to expose medical students to the specific needs of these patients and educate a new generation of health care providers about this population.

“This partnership provides not only an opportunity for our students to have hands-on experience working with intellectually challenged individuals, but equally as important, it provides individuals and their families with expanded access to health care,” Forman said.

The medical center’s physicians and students will offer therapy, medication administration, non-life-threatening emergency assistance, breathing treatments, nutrition and physical activity planning, post-surgery care and more. It plans to serve 6,000 patients who will come from the community and existing New Vista programs. Today, the nonprofit organization has 18 homes in the Las Vegas Valley area and supports more than 100 people.

Additional construction phases are to include a community outreach center, a job development center and additional senior homes, DeGuzman said. New Vista also hopes to develop a smartphone application to help those with disabilities communicate better, DeGuzman said.

“A large segment of the population has little or no health care,” Forman said. “The most fragile in our society are often the most ignored, so this is an opportunity for us to give care.”

Participation in care at New Vista will be included among other rotations, such as primary care, pediatric and internal, said Dr. Andrew Eisen, associate dean of the college. Part of a larger lesson about the partnership necessary in health care, medical students will work alongside physical therapists, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists and others at New Vista to provide overall care for the individual.

“We want our students to learn that health care is a team effort,” Eisen said.

The clinic and homes will be developed on 15 acres of land at 7875 N. Rainbow Blvd. The funding for phase one was provided by the nonprofit group’s trustees, the Robert S. and Dorothy J. Keyser Foundation and the Engelstad Family Foundation.

Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross, representing Ward 6, championed the day as a celebration for individuals, their families and the entire community.

“This is huge. This is so huge for our community to be a part of, and I’m so grateful for that,” Ross said.

DeGuzman expects phase two, development of four additional homes and more offices, to cost between $3 million and $4 million. Community members can get involved by dropping off donations or items at the New Vista Emporium thrift store at 5220 W. Charleston Blvd. or volunteering at New Vista Ranch.

For more information, visit newvistanv.org or call 702-457-4677.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Laura Phelps at lphelps@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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