Mountain Valley announces new internist


A doctor with experience in starting her own medical practice, ER and working as a medical director for an insurance company said she is ready to get back to seeing patients as she joins the physician group at Desert View Hospital.

Dr. Kelly E. Van Wagner plans to begin seeing patients on a full-time basis beginning next month at the hospital’s Mountain Valley Physicians Group, located across from the emergency room at 360 S. Lola Lane.

Van Wagner, a board certified internist, graduated from the University of Nevada Medical School in 2000 before venturing out to open her own practice in the Green Valley area, where she practiced until late 2009.

The doctor said she was initially drawn to the medical field by happenstance after she discovered a new-found respect for the human body while taking a biology class for non-biology majors in college.

“I was actually an English major about to go to law school and what happened was you know how you take biology for non-biology majors and there was a sense of awe like ‘oh my goodness the body does this’. And even though it seems so complex and amazing in what it does, it was so simplistic and after you read about it, it made sense. And I think that’s what draws a lot of us to health care. The first part is this is amazing, how the human body works, and it’s probably the most efficient machine in all of nature or in human innovation. The other part of it is I think everyone in health care has the same core, they want to help. You just want to be part of a community that’s there to help. So I think those two components are what drew me in,” she said.

Though it took hard work and determination to open her own practice straight out of residency, Van Wagner decided to try and further help her patients by opening an emergency room in Green Valley after seeing patients experience long wait times at other area hospitals near her practice.

“For nearly 10 years I had my own solo practice in internal medicine. And in 2008, I’m a big fan of the study of delivery models and access points for patients, so in Green Valley where I practiced, we had a huge ER that was so busy, and again this was before the big recession crash happened, so I decided I would open my own free-standing ER, because 70 percent of people who go to the ER, aren’t admitted to the hospital,” Van Wagner said. “I could give them a better access pint, lower their wait times and provide better customer service. I took the ER and I put it with this other facility. So now what I was able to do, basically health care delivery is on a scale one through 10, 10 being admission to the hospital, and I could now in my own personal, small integrated network, me and my little ER, I could do everything from one through nine. So my patients, who were usually small business owners and their employees, loved this opportunity because it meant they could get in and get out. My big mantra was I wanted to deliver the highest quality care based in customer services. My biggest customer service for patients is time. The biggest commodity for patients is time, so we always tried to strive to run on time.”

Van Wagner added that while time was an important consideration in her practice, she also strived to treat patients the way she thought her friends and family would want to be treated.

“(As doctors) we’re all pretty similar, we want the highest quality of care, we all have that clinical knowledge, we all pass boards, it’s that extra component of how you deliver that package and mine was always I wanted to practice medicine the way my parents, or my friends or I wanted my family to receive, the highest customer service. That was how I wanted to do it,” she said.

As Van Wagner worked to open her ER and run her practice, she said she soon became very involved in working with insurance companies. At that time she was approached by one company who she said liked her model of care and invited her to become their medical director.

“One of the companies came out, saw the model and started talking to me about delivery models and different payment models. All this movement that’s happening in health care right now, and we just sat there for almost an hour and this president of this insurance company said would you come be a medical director for us part-time, and that’s how I flew into being a medical director for more than four years. So I closed my medical practice in 2009 and I became a medical director for an insurance company. I learned everything I wanted to learn, and now it’s time to go back and practice,” the physician said.

When Van Wagner began to look around for a new practice to join, she said she was drawn to the model Desert View Hospital CEO Kelly Adams was beginning to implement at the facility.

“Just by happenstance I had heard about Mr. Adams and talked to him about the hospital, and again that’s going to be the cog in an integrated network and it becomes almost like a medical neighborhood. And listening to him talk about his vision and the hospital’s vision it’s what you’re looking for as a physician. You’re looking for someone who’s got the right model and is implementing it the right way,” she said.

Van Wagner added she was also drawn to the position after hearing great things from fellow doctors about the people of Pahrump.

“When I talked to friends of mine who had satellite offices here the way they would describe Pahrump was a community, the people here were sincere and kind and just very friendly. And that sounded like where I was practicing and so that was the second component, the community. So was it the right model implanted the right way with the right focus on quality and is it the right community. So even though there’s a lot of movement happening in Las Vegas could I get that all in one package? It’s a little bit harder down in Las Vegas and so to me this was the right opportunity. It’s a vision that’s about to take off and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

Van Wagner will begin seeing patients on a full-time basis in Pahrump beginning Sept. 16.

For more information about the Mountain Valley Physicians Group or to schedule an appointment those interested can call the office at 775-751-7100.