County to discuss paying consultant

A consultant could receive $450,000 to research how to convert University Medical Center into a full-fledged teaching hospital while improving its efficiency.

Clark County commissioners, acting as UMC’s board of trustees, will discuss today whether to award a one-year contract to Tennessee-based FTI Healthcare.

It’s the latest step in the effort to change UMC into a teaching hospital and, officials hope, free the county of a heavy financial burden. Last year, UMC ran up a deficit of more than $80 million.

UMC would chip in $359,000 for the consultant and the Nevada System of Higher Education would pay $91,000.

“We’re looking at a strategy that brings UMC and the medical school and the higher education system into closer alignment,” said Kathy Silver, the hospital’s chief executive.

Those three entities must merge to some degree if UMC is ever to become a teaching hospital, she said.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak, however, said he was unaware the hospital planned to pay a consultant almost a half a million dollars in a tough economic climate.

“That’s a lot of money,” Sisolak said. “I’ll have to take a look at it. We’ll see.”

FTI would study how other county hospitals changed their management structures to become successful teaching hospitals, and it would update the past analysis of UMC’s operating and financial flaws.

Delving into how other county hospitals made the transition to teaching centers is key, Silver said. “What changed fundamentally about them that allowed them to do that?”

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