Lyon County to explore full-service hospital

The Lyon County Commission doesn’t want to be in the hospital business, but it is willing to investigate the possibility of bringing another facility to its central jurisdiction.
The board has authorized county manager Jeff Page to explore the potential costs and feasibility of bringing a full-service hospital to Central Lyon County to manage growing burdens on its communities.
Commissioner Vida Keller requested the item after months of conversations, and Page said the item during the Aug. 4 commission meeting was meant to provide feedback and possible next steps. Nevada Revised Statute 244.1605 establishes that boards of county commissioners “may establish, equip and maintain limited medical facilities in the outlying areas of their respective counties to provide outpatient care and emergency treatment to the residents of and those falling sick or being injured or maimed in those areas.”
The Nevada Appeal requested the Lyon County District Attorney’s clarification on whether the county is obligated to provide additional services beyond South Lyon Medical Center to its rural communities.
NRS 244.1605 also calls for staffing the facilities, fixing charges for the medical and nursing care and medicine provided by the facility and purchasing, equipping and maintaining ambulances and ambulance services for residents in the area.
“This is not the county manager trying to become a hospital administrator,” Page told the board upfront. “We do not want to own a hospital facility. We want to know where in Central Lyon would it be.”
Page said previous discussions about bringing in a hospital for Silver Springs have taken place, but it would be easier to have a short stop in the central county to prevent wearing out the ambulances that make long trips to South Lyon Medical Center or Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, based on location.
In April, the board heard numerous requests to determine how to distribute $6.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, taking requests for public service needs. Mason Valley, Smith Valley, Central Lyon County and North Lyon, the county’s four fire districts, asked the commission to appropriate dollars to replace aging ambulances.
“Both North Lyon County and Central Lyon County Fire spend a minimum of an hour transporting to and from a hospital, more than likely two hours just to go to Carson Tahoe Hospital,” Page reported Aug. 4.
Lyon County’s primary medical facility, South Lyon Medical Center at 213 S. Whitacre St. in Yerington, was built in 1953 with help from the Anaconda Copper Co. Before then, communities relied on doctors who worked individually, but the copper mine brought major expansion to Lyon. When Anaconda left by the late 1970s, the hospital faced challenges and the Lyon County Commission established the South Lyon County Hospital District in May 1984. The Nevada Revised Statutes also provided for the board of trustees to be elected by voters to run the facility. The Yerington Paiute Tribe Health Clinic is another local facility at 30 West Loop Road offering general medical, dental, behavioral health and substance abuse services.
Establishing a building in four to seven years, Page said in a follow-up with the Appeal, should the desire be to proceed and a location is found, is the easy part. Determining the cost for hiring physicians and staffing the facility is the unknown factor.
“I’d be reaching out to a number of neighboring counties and asking, ‘How does this work and what do you do and why?’ ” he said. “It may work well in counties but might not work so well 15 miles across county lines versus in urban counties. Carson has less residents but it’s smaller geographically. And, in effect, we will take a smaller patient load if a hospital is built in Central Lyon.
During the Aug. 18 commission meeting, Page said Reno hospital administrators recently have begun contacting to schedule meetings about establishing a potential site. He also said he would like to begin coordinating community meetings in Lyon. Page said he would like to hold meetings in Silver Springs, Dayton and Mound House in September and meetings in Silver City and Stagecoach in October to help residents understand what a new hospital would mean for the community.


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