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Las Vegas ‘medical hub’ moves closer to reality

Las Vegas officials envision a district that spurs research and attracts medical talent, with housing, amenities, wide, well-lit streets and even driverless vehicles, with the goal of transforming the city into a nationally recognized medical hub.

The vision for the growing 684-acre Las Vegas Medical District — which comprises University Medical Center and the soon-to-be completed Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV — was laid out Tuesday at Las Vegas City Hall, in an event that appeared to be aimed at medical professionals and prospective developers.

Gov. Steve Sisolak was among those in attendance.

Last week, the City Council approved a contract with a consulting firm tasked with determining what’s feasible for the district and providing an implementation plan. The firm will take input from people interested in the issue, assess the current market for health care needs and spot “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” according to the contract.

The contract — which would not exceed $195,000 — was awarded to ECG Management Consultants. An executive summary and final report are due in October, according to a copy of negotiating documents.

“This consulting agreement, which I think is pivotal and critical at this juncture, is the next step forward in the evolution of the medical district,” Las Vegas Councilman Brian Knudsen told the council last week before the contract was approved.

The Las Vegas Medical District “will look and feel just dramatically different in a few years, even more so in 10,” said Tabitha Pederson, the city’s senior economic development specialist.

The presentation also came in the heels of a Tuesday announcement that Nevada had awarded the Kirk Kerkorian school $70 million to fund an ambulatory care clinic and pathology lab.

“The lab will expedite the delivery of critical test results from the medical school campus to University Medical Center, strengthening the relationship between the university and the Clark County-operated hospital,” Las Vegas Medical District officials wrote in a news release.

The district has been in the works for two decades with an initial allotment of 214 acres, which was expanded to 684 acres in a 2015 master plan. Knudsen and fellow Councilman Cedric Crear have been leading the city’s efforts.

Developers and city officials highlighted some of the completed and upcoming projects, which included traffic improvements, art installations, housing, office and parking facilities.

The new developments could not come at a more critical time, said Toni Corbin, chief operating officer for Optum Care, referring to the “staggering statistics” of the upcoming physician shortage in the United States.

Nevada ranks 46th among states with a shortage, she said.

“Each and every one of us have to be innovators,” she said. “We need to be planning now for the future, we can’t wait five to 10 years.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter.

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