I hope this letter finds you well. It is always an honor for me to write to you and share the exciting developments that are occurring at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital. Our hospital exists to make our community healthier, so it is my privilege to report back to you – the members of the community – on how we are accomplishing this. With your kind permission, I’d like to highlight four key areas in which NNRH is making a tremendous impact on the health of our region.
Giving Back To Our Community
At this link, you will find our annual Community Benefit Report. This document details the many ways that we have contributed economically to the well-being of our city, county and state.
Of course, the greatest benefit we provide to our community is quality health care. You can’t put a dollar amount on the lives that we’ve touched – the folks who have been cured of debilitating diseases, our neighbors who have regained mobility and quality of life, or the precious newborns whom we’ve welcomed into the world. Those contributions are priceless, and we are grateful for the opportunity to make them each day.
At the same time, it’s reaffirming to see a report like this that adds up those benefits which can be quantified. It allows us to take stock of the last year or so. On the back page of the report, you’ll see our Economic Impact statement. I’m very pleased to note that the grand total we contributed financially in 2016 was over 8.25 million dollars. In fact, this figure increased by over half a million dollars from 2015. We would not be able to do this without your support.
I invite you to read the Community Benefit Report in its entirety. Now, here are some other advances in our services which are designed to benefit you and keep care close to home.
Women's Health Services
Two years ago, obstetrical services were truly at a crossroads here in Elko. We were down to only one local OB/GYN who was delivering babies at NNRH. I’d like to take a moment to recognize Dr. Conrad Roberson who worked diligently and faithfully throughout that time of crisis.
Today, I’m very happy to report that we have five fine physicians delivering babies in Elko: Dr. Roberson who continues in private practice, Dr. Peter Beale with the Nevada Health Centers, Dr. Stephen Starr, Dr. Scott Curtis, and Dr. Radhika Sharma, all three of whom are located within the Northeastern Nevada Medical Group. It’s safe to say that Elko’s OB crisis has been resolved. In fact, more than resolved. With these physicians and our outstanding nursing team, we are offering the highest, safest level of obstetrical care in our history. Free classes on birthing and breastfeeding round out our services so that expectant mothers don’t have to drive 300 miles for check-ups or delivery. It’s clear that obstetrics is once again thriving in Elko.
Of course, there is much, much more to women’s health than just obstetrics. There’s the entire GYN, or gynecology, side of things. In this field, it is very exciting to see our physicians bringing new services and surgical procedures to benefit the Elko area. In particular, Dr. Curtis and Dr. Sharma have developed a new program to help women who suffer from the “all-too-common but let’s-not-talk-about-it” conditions of bladder leakage or urinary incontinence. NNRH has supported this initiative by purchasing a state-of-the-art Goby Wireless Urodynamic System for precise diagnoses of bladder disorders.
Our gynecologists also specialize in surgical treatments for uterine and bladder prolapse – conditions which cause much pain and discomfort. Dr. Sharma and Dr. Curtis have already performed several surgeries that just six months ago were not available anywhere in Elko. These procedures restore quality of life to local women. And that is what all of our affiliated OB/GYNs are passionate about: making the women of northeastern Nevada healthier. All of us at NNRH feel gratified to offer these services to our community.
Air Ambulance Services
Another area in which we have seen significant developments over the past six months is emergency air transport. You’ve probably noticed the evidence of this when you drive past the hospital. The Elko AirOne helicopter is now stationed on our helipad full time!
We are very excited about our partnership with MedX AirOne which has resulted in this rotor-wing aircraft being permanently assigned to NNRH. What this means for the patient is that, should you ever require transport from NNRH to a facility offering a higher level of specialty care, Elko AirOne will be ready and waiting with safe and quick pad-to-pad service. (Their average time from NNRH to the University of Utah is 84 minutes.)
Another great benefit from this collaboration is the fact that, as a patient, your care team in the Emergency Department and onboard the helicopter will be fully integrated. Our Emergency Department nurses and paramedics actually serve as the crew of Elko AirOne. This results in excellent continuity of care and in greater efficiency during situations where every second truly counts.
As a hospital, we really couldn’t ask for a better community partner. MedX AirOne has already demonstrated their commitment to Elko County by developing a membership program whereby no permanent resident will ever be charged out-of-pocket expenses for transport on Elko AirOne. This is the best kind of membership program: one for which you don’t even have to sign-up. Just by living in Elko County, you are covered.
We also maintain a good working relationship with the other two air service providers in our area: REACH and American Medflight. Our community is fortunate to have all three of these companies providing this vital service to our region. We’re all in this to save lives and to do what is best for the patient, whether that means providing service in our Emergency Department or transporting them to another trauma facility.
Interventional Cardiology Services
Finally, having just touted the new helicopter sitting on our pad, let me state that we are working diligently to ensure you won’t need it. Over the last year, we have made huge strides in expanding our interventional cardiology capabilities in Elko. What that means is, if you’re having a heart attack, we can usually treat it right here without sacrificing precious minutes to transport you.
Let me roll back the clock for just a moment. One year ago, we announced that we were opening The Heart Center at NNRH. We welcomed Dr. Rodney Badger, an interventional cardiologist from the University of Utah, to our staff. As the title implies, the idea behind interventional cardiology is to intervene when a patient is suffering from a heart attack by restoring blood flow to the heart. This is exactly what Dr. Badger has been doing, working in our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (or Cath Lab) to insert life-saving arterial stents. The only problem we faced was that we didn’t have two of him. Although Dr. Badger is quite energetic (and if you’ve met him, you’ll know what an understatement that is), he couldn’t possibly be in the Cath Lab all day, every day indefinitely.
That’s why we were so excited when Dr. Dirk Vandergon joined our staff this past March. A skilled interventional cardiologist himself, Dr. Vandergon brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team. His arrival means that NNRH now has an interventional cardiologist on-call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No matter when your heart needs us, we’ll be here to help.
Between Dr. Badger, Dr. Vandergon, and Dr. Brad Burlew (another of our local cardiologists who is in private practice), Elko is blessed with excellent heart doctors. And I haven’t even mentioned all of their dedicated staff members or the incredible cardiology nurses here at NNRH. These folks work feverishly day-in and day-out to keep hearts beating and pulses going strong. In fact, since The Heart Center opened last year, we have performed nearly 1,000 cardiac procedures. Prior to that, patients had no choice but to travel out of town to receive this level of cardiac care. Simply put, these doctors, nurses and staff members are truly making our community healthier, one patient at a time.
There’s more exciting news regarding The Heart Center on the horizon, but I’ll save that for my next CEO update. For now, let me conclude by re-stating our commitment to you: at NNRH, we’re here for every moment in life. Through all the ups and downs, we’ll be right here providing quality healthcare to you – our friends, neighbors and fellow community members – whenever you need us.
Thank you for your continued support and for choosing NNRH as your partner in health. It is a privilege to serve you.
Wising you the best of health,
Rick Palagi, CEO