By Debbie Hall
Expanding health care at home and around the worldAs Douglas Geinzer, CEO of Las Vegas HEALS (Healthcare | Education | Advocacy | Leadership | of Southern Nevada), stated, “Good health care is coming to Southern Nevada. Actually it is here already, we just don’t have enough of it. We have some of the most amazing providers in the world that chose to practice here, including doctors that have trained at Yale and Johns Hopkins.”
In 2002, when the nonprofit organization was formed as the Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition, Geinzer took on the role of chairman of its recruitment and retention taskforce and continued for seven years. He then joined its leadership council (now board of directors) and, in 2007, became the chairman of the board. “I got to guide us [the organization] through the recession. In 2008, I had the opportunity to sell my company and work for a larger media company for two years. I exited in 2010 and had time on my hands. As an entrepreneur, there is nothing more dangerous than having time with nothing to do,” he explained. Geinzer offered to step down as chairman and become CEO in an uncompensated role for what he thought would be a short period of time. His goal was to develop the organization with personnel, procedures and policy to take it to the next level.
The caliber of the personnel and its business model under Geinzer was immediately demonstrated after the organization received its first grant six months later. Using this funding, it was recognized for developing the most successful workforce development program in the United States.
Moving away from funding using grants, Geinzer explained, “I repurposed it and now it is a membership-based organization,” he said. “It is set up as a 501(c)(6) which is very much like a chamber of commerce.” With the growth in this direction, “I am more committed to the group than I have ever been in with anything else in my 30 years as an entrepreneur,” Geinzer said.
After building up the organization for the past two years, Geinzer now has membership that includes organizations that employ over 28,000 health care professionals including hospitals, education, physicians, payors, post-acute care, chambers of commerce, professional associations and government. Under the guidance and direction of Geinzer, Las Vegas HEALS has become the largest health care organization in the state of Nevada. This includes 100 percent of the hospitals in Southern Nevada, 100 percent of the medical educational institutions and a large percentage of providers, and Las Vegas HEALS continues to grow.
Its mission includes current initiatives on graduate medical education, Medicaid expansion, medical tourism, expedited licensure and correcting provider reimbursements to improve the quality of health care in Southern Nevada.
Las Vegas HEALS is exploring ways to grow Southern Nevada as a global destination to deliver high quality health care. In 2011, Las Vegas HEALS partnered with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to develop a strategic plan to position Las Vegas to become the most globally recognized destination for health and wellness travel. The process involved 147 organizations. “We have the access, the accessibility, accommodations, dining, entertainment and everything required to give all patients a great experience. We can transfer our knowledge and expertise from the hospitality industry to health and wellness travel,” Geinzer said.
“We do have some quality challenges caused or driven by lack of access to health care,” Geinzer admitted. Part of the reason is there are not enough health care providers for the growing population of Southern Nevada. The organization wants to develop more homegrown doctors, nurses, therapists and other health care professionals. “By improving access we will also improve quality. Quality, in our opinion, is really nothing more than reducing the time from diagnosis to treatment. In order to do that, a practitioner needs to guide a patient navigating his or her way through the health care system.” Through Las Vegas HEALS, Geinzer is working to grow the health care workforce that will ultimately improve quality for health care as well as a way for Southern Nevada to diversify its economy.
According to Geinzer, while the organization works on issues of the quality of health care, it is also economically driven. “The economic diversification efforts have been in place since 2001 with a higher level of concentration since the recession,” he said. Companies are not going to relocate or expand in Southern Nevada unless two key components are in place: good health care and education.
Groundwork has also been laid to expand graduate medical education (physician residencies) and footing to have more medical schools built in Las Vegas. In fact, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Roseman University of Health Sciences will be accepting new medical students in 2017.
Part of graduate medical education for a new doctor is a residency and one of the biggest successes for Las Vegas HEALS is facilitating $10 million in funding from the governor’s office to expand residencies in Southern Nevada. Instead of just three hospitals offering formalized residency programs, that number will be increased to 12 hospitals by the end of the year. According to Geinzer, 67 percent of new doctors stay where they complete their residency. “This is the greatest way to increase the number of practitioners,” he said.
A resident of Las Vegas since 1993, as an entrepreneur, “I understand what it takes to build great companies,” Geinzer said. His first business was the Employment Guide that is still in publication today. He also owned The Recruiting Nevada Network, which was the largest network of employment websites in Nevada. Many employers both on and off the Las Vegas Strip were able to attract the best in talent and expertise from around the country to relocate to Southern Nevada with this resource.
While infrastructure being built by Las Vegas HEALS will continue to improve health care in Southern Nevada, the perception of health care also needs to be corrected. While many people realize it needs improvement in several areas, others also assume that this means it is not good. This is incorrect. “We do have good health care here. We just don’t have enough and we are fixing that part of the equation.” As Geinzer stated, “Good doctors are right here in Las Vegas and they chose to practice here because they like it here.”
For more information, visit lasvegasheals.org.