Reno’s two largest hospitals are gearing up to meet the medical needs of an expected population surge.
In September, Renown announced a nearly $64 million investment that includes state-of-the-art technology, enlarging its Institute for Cancer building, creating an intermediate level of care between emergency medicine and hospital admission, and exploring the construction of a completely new medical center.
Saint Mary’s Medical Group has invested $50 million in the past 18 months on new facilities and equipment, including the recently expanded medical clinic in northwest Reno, which opened Nov. 1. It has additional clinics and specialty facilities opening in other areas of the community.
Nevada economists predict the population of the region will explode in the next five years by about 50,000 people thanks to an influx of jobs from major companies like Tesla, Switch, and Apple, and many smaller companies riding their wake into the area.
That influx of people will need healthcare services, something both medical groups are seeking to serve.
“There’s tremendous growth going on in our region,” Renown CEO Dr. Anthony Slonim said in recent phone interview. “That signals increased volume (of medical services) needed for the new companies coming and their families that will need health care.”
Renown and Saint Mary’s are focusing on expanding non-acute care services in convenient locations for patients.
“Reno does not need more hospital beds, it’s over bedded, which is very rare,” said Saint Mary’s CEO Helen Lidholm, in a phone interview. “What the community needs and Saint Mary’s fosters is outpatient care centers.”
Besides its acute care hospital downtown, and the new northwest Reno medical clinic, Saint Mary’s also has a medical campus at Galena that includes primary care, urgent care and an outpatient surgical center.
Saint Mary’s expansions include a new medical center under construction in the North Valleys on Vista Knoll Parkway near Walmart that will include primary care, urgent care, pediatrics and x-ray, expected to open early next year, and a downtown sleep center to open in December.
“We’re already booked through the end of December for those (sleep) studies,” said Lori Martin, Saint Mary’s Medical Group executive director of clinical operations.
At Renown, $7.8 million of its investments are going to expand and upgrade the Institute for Cancer, located next to its main hospital complex on Mill Street.
Plans include additional exam rooms and infusion beds plus two new radiation therapy vaults. The massive machines sit in concrete basins in lead-lined rooms, which will require an expansion of the footprint of the institute, Dr. Slonim said.
Also at Renown’s main campus, 18 new private rooms are being created above the emergency room as 24-hour observation rooms. Patients who don’t need to be admitted, but aren’t stable enough to be sent home, can be observed overnight away from the noise and chaos of an emergency room.
The biggest addition to Renown Health’s services will be a new comprehensive patient care facility expected to include imaging, therapy, primary care, urgent care and lab services.
“There’s a great need for our community for appropriate access to primary care,” Slonim said.
Just where that $8 million facility will be located and exactly what services it will include have not yet been determined.
The hospital administration is currently “exercising due diligence and working through a master facility’s plan to determine the best location and best pieces,” Slonim said. They expect to be ready to start architectural planning in mid-2016.
Besides expanding the services at Renown’s main campus, a network of medical offices and services in the community provide care where people live. Easy access to wellness services can improve the health of the community, Slonim said.
“Of the $64 million being committed to, as a not-for-profit hospital, $40 million is for clinical areas directly for patient care,” he said.
Saint Mary’s officials echoed the need for convenient access to medical care and careful research to determine the best locations for facilities.
“Health care is moving away from hospital and more outpatient care,” Lidholm said.
“We know we need to give people health care where they live.”
Saint Mary’s, founded by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in 1908, is a for-profit hospital since 2012 when it was purchased by Prime Healthcare Services.
Both hospitals stay on top of demographic research that guides them in locating new facilities and determining what services should be attached to each facility.
“It’s important for us to grow strategically and not plop down a box,” Lidholm said, adding that current and planned facilities provide Saint Mary’s a “strong strategic footprint. All are in areas where the community is growing.”
The inability to receive health care close to home limits the health status of the community, Slonim said. Easy access to health care, including wellness care to prevent illness, is good for a community.