Hospital hop scotch

As rooftops roll across the desert expanse in Spanish Springs and the North Valleys, health care providers are poised to follow.

"Spanish Springs has grown so much," says Kimberly Brenay, director of ambulatory care services at Saint Mary's. "But there aren't a lot of services."

That's about to change as the three major hospitals in the Truckee Meadows take up position in Spanish Springs.

Saint Mary's plans a full-service urgent care center on Vista Boulevard in November. And in the spring, that temporary clinic will be replaced by a permanent facility in the same vicinity.

Northern Nevada Medical Center starts construction in November on a 5.3-acre site that's already being graded. It's located east of the Sparks Galleria, between Sparks Boulevard and Pyramid Highway. The center should be complete in the spring and will offer imaging services, primary care and then urgent care.

And Washoe Medical Center has an eye on Spanish Springs. Planning's begun with the selection of a 15-acre parcel just west of the intersection of Pyramid Way and Eagle Canyon.

Washoe Med has some zoning issues to settle on its selected site, says Steve Tapogna, director of real estate at Washoe Medical Center. While zoning of most parcels in neighborhood commercial areas allow hospitals, this parcel did not. So Washoe Med sought a zoning change in order to keep its options open in the future. There are no plans for an actual hospital at this time, he says.

In Sparks, Assistant City Planner Randy Mellinger says the city council initially appealed the decision of Washoe County to change zoning in Spanish Springs to allow for the future possibility of a 55-bed hospital, because it conflicted with the zoning that requires facilities be designed to serve only the neighborhood populations. But the city will withdraw that appeal, he says.

Tapogna explains, "The hospital tries to be proactive in looking at the health care needs throughout the community. It takes a long time to plan a medical facility." Planning for the hospital at South Meadows, for instance, began in 1994, a decade before it opened.

However, he adds, Spanish Springs will certainly need to be served, because growth studies predict a valley population of 60,000 by 2010 and more than 110,000 people by 2030.

Washoe County puts the current head count of the unincorporated area at 18,000, says Brock Maylath, business planner in marketing and business development at Saint Mary's. Those same stats show population may approach 85,000 in the next 10 years.

At Northern Nevada Medical Center, Brandt Wright, chief executive officer and managing director, looks at the "tremendous growth" of the valley, expected to grow over 32 percent in the next five years.

"We consider Spanish springs as part of our primary service area," he says.

The NNMC facility will offer an urgent care clinic, outpatient imaging center offering MRI, CT, Ultrasound, X-ray and mammography along with primary care physicians from the Silver State Family Practice. And, says Wright, "The medical campus has room for three medical office buildings available to physicians interested in that prime location."

The Saint Mary's clinic will be much like the walk-in facilities already open at Galena on Mount Rose Highway and on South McCarran Boulevard, says Brenay. A physician and nurse practitioner will be on site 24/7, and the center will also staff a primary care physician.

"With flu season starting, we expect up to 50 patients a day," says Brenay. Plus, the number of children living in Spanish Springs will generate a steady supply of sports injuries.

And, she adds, that won't be the only urgent care clinic built by Saint Mary's, because of the growth in all of the North Valleys.

"All the services have gone south," says Brenay, who lives in the north. "Until lately. They are actually making Spanish Springs a full-service community."


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