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New entrance makes navigating UMC less confusing

Because of the disjointed way that the University Medical Center has grown since 1931, shuttles have sometimes had to be used to get staff and patients quickly from one side of the public hospital to another.

And it’s been common for loved ones of patients to get lost as they’ve had to take elevators that would take them to a floor where they could cross over to another section of the hospital, only to find that they had to descend to another bank of elevators to start their journey yet again.

But the maze that has been UMC now is largely a thing of the past with the grand opening today of a new soaring main entrance near the corner of Shadow Lane and Charleston Boulevard.

“One side of the hospital has been severed from another,” said Rick Plummer, a hospital spokesman. “We’ve had to be creative in dealing with it in the past. What we opened today kind of ties together all that we’ve done in the last 10 years.”

In addition to the new entrance and lobby offering direct corridor access and easy-to-navigate hallways from one side of the hospital to the other, the five-year, $13.2 million project includes a new admitting area, direct access to a new pharmacy, a state-of-the-art robotic lab and blood draw station, and a new set of elevators.

“The funding for this development was earmarked years ago, and this has been an ongoing project,” UMC Chief Executive Officer Kathy Silver said as she gave visitors a tour of the new construction.

The laboratory, featuring an assembly line-style of operation that incorporates several hospital labs into one, uses robots to move specimens from one vial to another.

The 51,000-square-foot addition includes 200 new parking spaces and allows the Nevada Cancer Institute to renovate the former admitting area into a medical oncology and radiation oncology treatment center.

That renovation, which will allow patients to receive chemotherapy, radiation, imaging and counseling services all under one roof, is expected to be completed in early 2010.

Over the past 10 years, UMC has created an ambulatory surgical center, a new emergency room and intensive care units, as well as a northeast tower that includes space for the burn center, a cafeteria and patient rooms.

“It’s all come together in a way that makes us more convenient for our patients and more competitive in the marketplace,” Silver said.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.


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