Hospital expansions are planned throughout valley

Welder Keven Fifield works on an expansion of the MountainView Hospital on Tenaya Way at Cheyenne Avenue Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. The hospital is expanding its emergency department and building two more floors of hospital space. Sept. 5, 2012.

MountainView Expansion

Construction continues on an expansion of the MountainView Hospital on Tenaya Way at Cheyenne Avenue Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. The hospital is expanding its emergency department and building two more floors of hospital space. Sept. 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Is Las Vegas poised for a medical building boom?

Based on plans floating around town, it sure looks that way.

In Henderson, a new hospital tower, skilled nursing facility and massive medical and senior-living complex are planned. In northwest Las Vegas, a hospital expansion is underway and a new hospice center is on the drawing board.

There’s no guarantee all of the projects will be built. To be sure, the valley has seen its share of unrealized projects, and commercial construction in general is almost nonexistent in the region. Financing is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.

But if the medical centers do come to fruition, they’ll certainly be used, the developers say.

Because of the population boom over the past decade and its mild weather and amenities, Las Vegas has grown as a home for senior citizens. The trend is expected to continue in the coming years, creating a larger pool of potential patients.

About 12.5 percent of Nevadans were at least 65 years old last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number is projected to climb to 15.4 percent in 2020 and to almost 19 percent in 2030, according to the federal Administration on Aging.

There isn’t a shortage of hospital beds right now. But health care executives anticipate a jump in demand and say additional medical centers will help local facilities keep up with future needs.

At least three new projects are planned for Henderson, which is home to a larger percentage of seniors than all the rest of Clark County. More than 14 percent of Henderson’s population is at least 65, compared to 11.7 percent countywide, according to Census data.

Officials at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals plan to build a $156-million, five-story tower and four-level parking garage on the Siena campus at the corner of St. Rose Parkway and South Eastern Avenue. The garage is expected to be finished in April, while construction of the tower is slated to begin in April and finish in June 2015.

Hospital officials also plan to add about 350 surface parking spots this year and expand Siena’s neonatal intensive care unit next year, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Teressa Conley said.

Altogether, the hospital will grow from 219 beds to 326 beds, allowing for expansions in the cardiology, emergency and other departments. Hospital executives are even leaving the tower’s fifth floor empty so that it can be used for future growth.

Several factors are fueling the plan. The hospital, which opened in 2000, treats a high volume of people and is forced to transfer many patients to its sister campuses because it can’t handle the demand, Conley said. Siena also is located near several retirement communities.

Hospital executives had planned for years to expand Siena, but the sluggish economy and other ongoing projects zapped available funding. Siena now has the capital to expand, Conley said.

Conley said the campus expects patient volume to grow as millions of uninsured Americans will likely obtain health coverage in 2014. Under the federal Affordable Care Act, people will be able to buy insurance through open-market exchanges or use tax credits to help pay for health plans.

Other projects planned for Henderson include a two-story, 126-bed skilled nursing facility on Wigwam Parkway near Eastern Avenue. The Henderson City Council approved the project in March 2011 when the developers planned to build a one-story, 22-bed skilled nursing facility with a surgical center. The Planning Commission approved the revised plans last month.

Also in Henderson, the $1.5 billion, 150-acre Union Village complex is slated to be built near U.S. 95 and Galleria Drive. Unveiled in April 2011, the project includes four hospitals, 1,000 residential units for senior living and hundreds of thousands of square feet of medical office space. There would also be retail shops, hotels and a movie theater on site.

Construction, however, is not expected to start until at least 2013.

On the other side of the valley, Solari Hospice Care plans to build a 12-bed, 13,000-square-foot facility at the corner of West Craig Road and Conough Lane in northwest Las Vegas. Like other hospice centers, the facility will serve terminally-ill patients who are expected to live for another six months at most.

Solari officials hope to break ground by the end of the year and open the facility by December 2013, Executive Director Candis Armour said. Solari has operated a 12-bed hospice center on South Jones Boulevard near West Russell Road since 2008.

Armour said there is opportunity for growth in the hospice market as relatively few stand-alone hospice centers in the valley provide on-site care. The company is scouting properties for a third facility that Armour wants to open by 2015.

Elsewhere in northwest, MountainView Hospital on North Tenaya Way is expanding its emergency department and building two more floors of hospital space. The $60-million project already is underway and is expected to be completed early next year, hospital spokeswoman Amanda Powell said.

The ER will grow from 22 beds to 42 beds and offer a new triage area for rapid evaluation. A new helipad for airlifted patients will be built and new PET-CT imaging equipment will be purchased to quickly evaluate people with chest pain. The two new floors will be built above the expanded ER, creating a three-story tower next to MountainView’s existing five-story tower. Like Siena, the third floor of the new tower will remain empty, on reserve for future expansion.

The expansions are need to accommodate the aging Baby Boomer population, Powell said. She pointed out that the Summerlin area includes a number of retirement communities.

“We need to be able to grow with our community,” she said.

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