Carson Tahoe Health, University of Utah set alliance |

Carson Tahoe Health, University of Utah set alliance

Rob Sabo

Ed Epperson, president and chief executive officer of Carson Tahoe Health, remembers well the time he took a family member to the San Francisco Bay Area for advanced medical care not offered in northern Nevada.

Though the level of care provided was excellent, Epperson says, the logistics of a lengthy stay in Bay Area and the cost of care were less than desirable conditions — and are two of the main reasons why Carson Tahoe Health formed a strategic alliance with the University of Utah Health Care system.

Carson Tahoe and executives from University of Utah Health announced the partnership at Carson Tahoe’s medical campus on the northern end of Carson City. Forming an alliance with an advanced medical center has long been on the organization’s priority list, Epperson says.

“One of our strategic goals is to assess the possibility and benefits of being affiliated with a top-notch teaching university and research center. At the same time, we began to hear about self-funded health insurance plans that were developing contracts with the University of Utah for tertiary and high-level care services that typically you go West to obtain.”

That care is an eight-hour drive East rather than a five-hour journey West to the San Francisco Bay Area, but University of Utah Health Care offers the same level of advanced care at a lower cost and its far easier to find lodging and to travel in Salt Lake City than in Palo Alto or San Francisco, Epperson says.

“We got excellent care in our situation when we were in San Francisco for a very high level of care, but it also was very intense in terms of where to stay, how to get around and logistics.”

Physicians at Carson Tahoe already had been referring patients to Utah for high-level care not offered at Carson Tahoe, such as complex cardiovascular and burn care, advanced clinical trials, transplant services and neurosciences. Those services will be offered as part of insurance plan benefits to employees of Carson Tahoe Health and their family members, while patients in need of such services will be referred to the new affiliate as a care option.

“It will be much more cost-effective service, and we have been hearing about very high patient satisfaction,” Epperson says. “There will be more affiliation with their expertise about taking care of our patients here.

“We are going to elevate our ability to do more things here with their help,” he adds. “They are going to be experiencing things and doing things that we don’t and will be ahead of us in the curve. This partnership will allow us to take advantage of both the educational opportunities and operating efficiencies associated with a large academic medical center.”