UCSD Health System to Buy Nevada Cancer Institute

UCSD Health System interim chief executive Dr. Thomas McAfee said in “UCSD buying Nevada Cancer Clinic,” published Jan. 22 in the San Diego Union-Tribune, that buying the 142,000-square-foot, four-story building and its medical practice fits into the long-term growth plan of the UC Health System. McAfee said that UCSD Health Systems will use cash reserves to buy the institute and that there will be no state or taxpayer money used.
According to McAfee, by expanding its patient base, the UCSD Health System will be able to expand its research and clinical trials and increase its education programs.
     “This expansion will allow us to fulfill our mission as the region’s only academic medical center,” UCSD Health Sciences Communications Director Jacqueline Carr said. “We will broaden our clinical trials and continue to teach the next generation of physician-scientists.”
Carr said the out-of-state expansion is part of a new model of care that hospitals like MD Anderson and Stanford have pursued. According to Carr, the expansion is a strategic way to combine resources and lower costs while increasing access to specialized care.
This is the UCSD Health System’s second expansion to an out-of-state facility. UCSD Health System opened a comprehensive but small liver clinic in Nevada in August 2011. The NVCI purchase is the first among the UC campuses to expand a large healthcare facility outside of California. UCLA and UC San Francisco have affiliations with other facilities but they are all within their surrounding communities.
The $18 million purchasing fee includes the institute’s name and the flagship building at the institute. Additionally, approximately 130 employees from the NVCI will remain at the clinic under the direction of the university.
The NVCI opened in 2005 with the hope of becoming one of the nation’s top cancer research institutions, but the recession hit the small independent nonprofit and forced it in to bankruptcy court on Dec. 2, 2011. According to “UCSD buying Nevada Cancer Clinic,” the NVCI found itself $100 million in debt and laid off 300 of its employees last spring. The institute had about 350 employees before it fell in to financial troubles.
Current NVCI patients will continue to see their physicians, but if certain treatments are not available in Nevada, they will go to San Diego where they will be able to consult with top physicians and have more trials available to them, Dr. Oscar Goodman Jr. of the Nevada Cancer Institute said in a Las Vegas Review Journal article dated Jan. 23.
“Patients coming from Nevada would mean better utilization of the state-of-the-art facility we have at UCSD Moores Cancer Center,” UC Regent Charlene Zettel said in the “UCSD buying Nevada Cancer Clinic” article.
“It also would be a boost for the San Diego economy because patients and families would be staying here. Most importantly, though, patients would get excellent care from some of the best doctors in California.”
According to the press release, UCSD Health System plans for the recruitment of medical and surgical oncologists, as well as beginning a national search for a physician-scientist to serve as director of the institute.
“We have patients who come from all over the world for some of our programs,” McAfee told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It makes us better at what we do to have adequate clinical volume.”

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