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Renown bringing medical back to Tonopah

TONOPAH — Health care services are set to return to the part of the former Nye Regional Medical Center campus on June 1, nine months after the Tonopah hospital shut its doors.

Renown Medical Group of Reno plans to open a telemedicine clinic on part of the former hospital campus that formerly housed a clinic.

“This means that we can now start beginning to re-establish health care services here in Tonopah,” Rich Conley of Renown Health said Tuesday in presenting a signed lease agreement to the Nye County Commission.

“To start, we’ll be operating four days a week, Monday through Thursday,” he told the commission. “We’ll be offering access to primary care and specialty care through telehealth technology.”

The nearest hospital to Tonopah is more than 100 miles away in Hawthorne or Bishop, California. The clinic at 825 S. Main St. will not have an emergency room. For emergency services or any serious injuries, residents are encouraged to call 911, Conley said.

As the clinic prepares for its June opening, an open house is planned there from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 20.

Tonopah native Jessica Thompson, who worked in a number of roles at Nye Regional, has been named director of group practice operations, Conley said.

“She will be helping to review any symptoms and connect you with a primary care, specialty care provider from Reno, using secure videoconferencing technology,” he said. “That provider can see and hear everything Jessica sees and hears whether it’s heart sounds, lung sounds or visualizing a cut on your own arm. A variety of services will be offered.”

A closer look

“What will this mean for Tonopah residents?” asked Conley, Renown’s director of outpatient radiology.

“Using this technology means you can receive care here in Tonopah with less stress and few travel costs,” he said. “You can visit the medical group for both primary care, as well as more than 30 specialities, including neurology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, behavioral health. There will be a large list of services that will be available right here.”

In addition to telemedicine in Tonopah, Renown plans to work to provide on-site lab testing. These include strep, flu and pregnancy tests. “We’ll also have X-ray services on site, and we’ll look to expand our imaging capabilities in the very near future.

“We also hope to expand our lab services, hopefully within the next 45 to 60 days,” Conley added. “We’re working with the state of Nevada to get proper licensing in place.”

Renown will continue to search and recruit for on-site medical providers, such as a physician or nurse practioner, he said. “We really wanted to get the services up and running and get a foundation for a sustainable model of care here in Tonopah,” he said.

Insurance and open house

Any insurance accepted by Renown in Reno would be accepted by its Tonopah clinic, officials said in an interview.

Renown has a list of contracted providers, Conley said.

“If people have other types of insurance products, we recommend them contacting their insurance company directly to see what type of coverage they could receive here in Tonopah,” he said.

The plans vary widely by coverages and contracts, Conley said. “We won’t turn anyone away. We’ll see all patients regardless of insurance product, but we would encourage them (patients) to work with their individual carriers.”

The May 20 open house is a chance to get an in-person look at what’s planned in the clinic.

“This will give everybody a chance to kind of learn more about telehealth, how it works, as well as giving an opportunity to meet your care team,” Conley told commissioners. “Basically, we look forward to working with the residents of Tonopah and the community here and truly appreciate the partnership that we have created here.”

In her public comments, Commissioner Lorinda Wichman, who has worked to secure medical services for Tonopah, thanked Renown.

She said she looked forward to it being a “long” constant in the Tonopah community, her comments shortened by applause about the agreement.

Contact reporter David Jacobs at djacobs@tonopahtimes.com

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