TONOPAH – A new operator for the recently-shuttered Nye Regional Medical Center is in sight.
Nye County Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday with Renown Health, Nevada’s only locally owned not-for-profit health care system, for further discussions with county officials about providing a new health care model in Tonopah.
The decision received thunderous applause of dozens of Tonopah residents that watched the teleconferenced meeting from Pahrump.
Larry Trilops, senior vice president and CEO of network development of Reno-based Renown, said they would provide remote medical support, otherwise known as telehealth and an urgent care facility for the residents of Tonopah. Access to primary health care services however is an essential element of the agreement that will be hashed out in the coming months.
“The next step is aligning resources to provide services in Tonopah,” Trilops said. “The letter of intent is 60 days and we are working diligently to deliver a model as soon as possible.”
In a letter of intent presented by Trilops to Nye County commissioners and later simplified by District Attorney Angela Bello, Trilops stated some of the conditions that stipulated further discussions between Renown Health and Nye County about proposed primary and specialty services in Tonopah.
According to the letter, the county agreed not to accept or solicit any offer or proposal for similar services for a period of 60 days after the execution of a letter of intent, instead of 128 days, that was stated in the initial letter.
“When I was looking and thinking of this, 128 seems too long, 60 days, that’s long too,” Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said. “I know you have to do a lot, we have to have meetings and decide, I get that. But I want something quickly on a table that we can provide something for the residents up there. That’s my goal for the discussion.”
Upon entering a contract, Renown Health will not be liable for any obligations or debts related to services which existed prior to the execution date of any such contracts for services, the letter said.
Previous operator Prime Care Nevada has approximately $1.2 million in unpaid liabilities. That does not include the $2.5 million and an unknown amount in legal fees the county loaned the hospital.
The county is still working on implementing a hospital tax district that could generate $750,000 annually and could help pay down the county’s loan.
Renown Health encompasses 80,000 square miles in northern and southern Nevada and is comprised of multiple operating entities such as post-acute facilities, acute care institutions, hometown health and several others. Some of its rural locations include Fallon, Silver Springs and Gardnerville, Trilops said.
“Caring for communities, and this is really important in what we are talking about today, how do we change how we deliver health care, especially if there is a community like Tonopah and the conversation I’m having today, I’m talking specifically about Tonopah, I believe faces many other communities throughout the state of Nevada that we are going to be having this discussion down the road,” he said.
Since Nye Regional closed its doors for emergency services on Aug. 21 due to financial strife, various in-and-out-of-state entities have come to aid. Renown however is the first entity that offered a health care model suitable for Tonopah, commission Chairperson Lorinda Wichman said.
“There were many others that came forward to help with the need, however none were able to see the potential in operating the facility,” Wichman said. “Renown Health has a model that is unique and innovative in the field of frontier medicine, and I believe their model will be the future for other communities facing the same challenges.”