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A New Hospital Is Planned For South Reno

Lucia Starbuck

It’s been a century since a new full-service hospital opened up in the Reno-Sparks area. KUNR’s Health Reporter Anh Gray talked with fellow reporter Lucia Starbuck about Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center, a facility that’s slated to open in a few years.

Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center will be considered a full-service hospital because it will provide a wide range of services. These will include emergency care, labor and delivery, stroke care, surgical services, and an institute for heart and vascular disease.

The hospital expects to have about 200 beds for this facility. Right now, there are fewer hospital beds per capita in Nevada compared to the rest of the nation. There are 2.1 hospital beds per 1,000 people in the state. The average in the U.S. is 2.8 per 1,000 people.

Alan Olive is the CEO of Northern Nevada Medical Center located in Sparks. He said one of the reasons for building this new facility in South Reno is due to population growth.

“Our experience at Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks is we become full frequently, meaning we don't have enough beds to service all of the patients. I think we're all aware of the expansion of our market, obviously triggered by expansion in the Tahoe-Reno tech center, that has spurred additional growth,” Olive said.

To meet that growth, Olive explained that Nevada also needs more primary care physicians. Nevada has 107.6 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, which is lower than the U.S. average of 156.7. The Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center will be hiring graduates from the UNR School of Medicine as well as physicians from out of state.

The goal is to recruit graduates from the UNR School of Medicine to help retain providers who have been trained in the community and know the community.

All of the rooms in the new facility will be private. Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks also offers that. Private rooms can help with health outcomes and improve a patient’s mental and physical recovery.

“Does your roommate snore? Do they moan? Do they cough? There's so many things that a private room enhances. It enhances sleep [and] obviously the privacy component," Olive said.

Private rooms can help with infection control, which is always a concern in hospital settings. Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center is expected to open in 2022.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
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