In partnership with the county’s largest network for treating burns, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center has opened a burn center, the second in the Las Vegas Valley.
“There’s not anything done in burn care that we can’t do right here today,” Dr. Jay Coates, medical director of the hospital’s Comprehensive Burn and Reconstructive Center, said Wednesday as he showed off the new unit. “The day (Oct. 1) we opened the door, we raised the level of burn care in this region, in this state.”
In its initial phase, the center is operating in an area near the entrance to Sunrise Children’s Hospital. It will expand early next year into a new hospital tower that is under construction. Sunrise Hospital, on Maryland Parkway near Desert Inn Road, is Nevada’s largest acute care facility and Level II trauma center, according to its website.
The center’s skin-grafting techniques include cultured epidermal autografts, or skin grafts made by growing a patient’s own cells, Coates said.
University Medical Center’s Lions Burn Care Center, the first burn center in Las Vegas, also offers CEA, according to the medical center, which operates Nevada’s only Level 1 trauma center, a designation for the highest level of care.
The Sunrise burn center has at its disposal the resources of Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America, a network of 11 centers, 40 physicians and 90 nurse practitioners and physician assistants. In the event of a mass casualty incident, Coates said, “We can bring more resources to bear than just about any place in the United States.”
Unlike surgery to treat other forms of trauma, burn surgery typically isn’t performed until after at least 24 hours so that the extent of damage can be more fully evaluated. And it requires intensive follow-up for months, said Coates, who has practiced medicine for 20 years in Las Vegas.
“Burns are a really unique animal, especially compared to trauma,” said Coates, both a trauma and a burn surgeon who previously served as the medical director of the Lions Burn Care Center. “When my trauma pager was going off, it was like, ‘What am I doing for the next few hours?’ When my burn pager was going off, it was like, ‘What am I doing for the next few months?’”
During what Coates calls Las Vegas’ “burn season” from May to September, doctors typically see an influx of patients who receive serious burns from hot pavement. Patients may attempt to walk long distances barefoot. Or they may fall — from a bicycle, after a car accident or from stumbling — and become unconscious when they hit the pavement.
“It only takes a few minutes of being unconscious on a 170 degree surface to get a really terrible burn,” said Coates, who went to high school in Las Vegas and to UNLV as an undergraduate.
The Sunrise burn center, along with the county hospital’s burn center, serve a region that extends into Arizona, California and Utah. The nearest burn centers outside of Las Vegas are in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
UMC said in a statement: “During the past five decades, our team has cared for tens of thousands of burn patients. For our team, burn care isn’t an opportunity to make a profit; it’s about providing life-saving care for the people who need us most.”