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Tonopah hospital closes, leaving medical care 100 miles away

Nye County officials announced contingency plans Friday for handling emergencies in Nevada’s remote central region following the abrupt closure of a small regional hospital in Tonopah.

Nye County Regional Medical Center, a 10-bed facility and the only hospital within a 100-mile radius, shut its doors at noon Friday. That leaves residents in much of Nye County and neighboring Esmeralda County without easy access to an emergency room, inpatient care or laboratory, radiology, respiratory and outpatient therapy services.

The medical center’s outpatient clinic will close at 5 p.m. Sept. 4.

In a statement, hospital CEO Wayne Allen said the facility tried to arrange a partnership with other health care organizations but was unsuccessful because of its small size and remote location.

“We are out of options, time and funding,” he wrote.

“This is a tragic loss for the population served by our hospital. This is a decision that will ultimately jeopardize the health and well-being of our community and surrounding areas. We are hopeful that another health care entity will see this lack of access to health care as an opportunity.”

Nye County Emergency Manager Vance Payne said the county reached transportation agreements with ambulance services and other providers in neighboring counties and California to help get patients medical treatment.

At more than 18,000 square miles, Nye is the largest county in Nevada. Tonopah, on the county’s western edge, is more than 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas and even farther from Reno.

The closest medical centers are in Hawthorne, Battle Mountain, Fallon or Bishop, Calif.

Payne said Life Guard Air Ambulance service has brought in an additional plane to service the area.

Additionally, the county has reached agreements with nearby Nevada counties and Inyo County in California to meet Nye County ambulances halfway to reduce patient transportation times.

Payne said the county is also negotiating with Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca for an additional mutual aid ambulance crew.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb

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