Three Southern Nevada hospitals apply to become Level 3 trauma centers

Three Southern Nevada hospitals have filed paperwork to become Level 3 trauma centers. But University Medical Center officials say the move could threaten their county-run hospital if the applications are approved simultaneously.

Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, MountainView Hospital, and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center applied in the fall to be designated Level 3 trauma centers, the lowest level recognized by the Southern Nevada Trauma System.

A resolution related to the trauma centers’ designation is slated for discussion during Wednesday’s Las Vegas City Council meeting.

St. Rose Dominican Hospital – Siena campus is so far the only Level 3 trauma center in Southern Nevada, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is the sole Level 2 and UMC functions as the lone level 1 facility. Trauma protocol dictates that patients with serious ailments be taken to designated trauma centers rather than standard emergency rooms.

UMC sees about 12,000 patients at its Trauma Center annually. About 3,000 of those patients are moderately to severely injured. UMC advocates worry that creating three more Level 3 facilities would cause that number to dwindle, reducing the hospital’s revenue and hurting its ability to train staff.

“A trauma system shouldn’t try to grow by dismantling the Level 1, creating an oversupply of Level 3 trauma centers,” UMC Department of Trauma Services Medical Director John Fildes said.

MountainView and Southern Hills, both of which are in the Sunrise Health System, argue that patients with low-level trauma injuries should be treated at hospitals in their immediate communities.

“I think we should stay focused on what’s right for the patient and that’s providing the care at the closest trauma facility to where the trauma activations occur,” MountainView Hospital CEO Chris Mowan said.

Southern Hills CEO Adam Rudd said designating his hospital as a Level 3 would have “almost no effect” on UMC, given the valley’s population growth.

He also argued growth in the southwest valley, with the addition of Ikea and other businesses, has contributed to population and traffic growth in the area, which makes transporting patients for Level 3 injuries more difficult.

“We think that the people of southwest Las Vegas deserve to be treated in the communities where they live,” Rudd said.

Meanwhile, Centennial Hills CEO Sajit Pullarkat said he understands the desire to add one facility at a time and believes his hospital’s presence in the fast-growing northwest valley should be considered if the Board of Health chooses to approve only one facility.

Mowan said if the board chooses to designate only one Level 3 out of the three applicants, he would support selection by a third party.

Trauma center applications are first sent for review to the Southern Nevada Health District Trauma Advisory Board. Then, a recommendation is made to the Southern Nevada District Board of Health, which makes the final decision.

The Board of Health consists of local business and medical representatives and political representatives of Southern Nevada jurisdictions including Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Clark County.

At a Jan. 6 Las Vegas City Council meeting, Councilman Bob Beers, who leads the Board of Health, proposed the council support adding a Level 3 facility to the north or northwest valley.

The City Council isn’t involved in designating the trauma centers, but Beers brought it before the group for a vote of symbolic support.

A vote on the proposal was postponed to obtain data from the trauma board. Although the item is on Wednesday’s City Council meeting agenda, it may be postponed again until after the Feb. 24 trauma board meeting.

UMC has no official position on the resolution, and Centennial Hills spoke at the meeting to promote its application.

Mowan was unaware of the City Council resolution when asked for comment Monday and said MountainView, which is also in Las Vegas, was not informed of the meeting. Southern Hills is in unincorporated Clark County.

Beers said Centennial Hills was not invited to speak at the City Council meeting and MountainView is welcome to express opinions when the resolution is discussed again.

“I wouldn’t take that as a sign that the City Council has a favorite,” Beers said of MountainView’s absence.

Contact Pashtana Usufzy at or 702-380-4563. Find her on Twitter: @Pashtana_U

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