Lahontan Medical Complex adds equipment, patients | NevadaAppeal.com

Lahontan Medical Complex adds equipment, patients

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Dr. Umasankari Sundaram checks Walter Piurek's blood pressure Wednesday at the Lahontan Medical Complex in Silver Springs.
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The Lahontan Medical Complex in Silver Springs has new equipment, a new agreement with a dentist and many new patients.

Kathy Ostlie, general manager of the complex who is also a registered nurse, said that’s a long way from where the operation began in 1986.

“We started with a physician’s assistant,” she said. “Now we have a doctor here seven days a week. For 10 years we have had a doctor.”

The doctor these days comes all the way from India. Dr. Umasankari Sundaram – or Dr. Uma, as her patients call her – said she has learned a great deal since coming to Nevada.

“I have been working as the only physician, so this clinic has taught me a lot,” she said. “That’s a big jump from residency to being the only physician.”

She gets some help from Dr. Richard Bargan, who works the weekends and Deann Reynolds, a physician’s assistant.

Dr. Uma comes from a large city in southern India, where she worked for two years after medical school. Once the internist decided to come to the United States, she had to complete another residency, which she did in Boston, and serve for three years in a rural part of the U.S.

She will complete her three-year stint in April and probably go to California, but Ostlie said they won’t have any trouble getting a new doctor, with the increase in patients they have seen.

“We have active charts in 2007 for 4,000 patients,” she said, adding that doesn’t count walk-ins.

“We get between 1,100 and 1,200 per month, or 26 to 30 patients a day,” she said.

One patient, Walter Piurek, 73, of Yerington, comes here despite having the South Lyon Hospital closer to home.

He was in to get his blood pressure checked and have an EKG done.

“That M*A*S*H center there sucks,” he said. “I gave them every opportunity, but I couldn’t get an EKG down there.”

Ostlie said patients come in for urgent care and can also get appointments to get their physicals, have their blood pressure taken and other routine procedures.

Heart patients can have EKGs and use a halter monitor that allows the staff to monitor heart activity 24 hours a day.

The center also has a new X-ray machine, capable of doing routine chest and back X-rays, and checking for closed limb breaks and sprains.

Ostlie said these updates help keep down the costs of expensive tests that used to be done elsewhere. The staff can now do tests for diabetes.

“So many people out here don’t have insurance, so we do everything we can to keep them from paying huge bills,” she said. “Any new test that we can do here, we try to do.”

The complex also boasts twice-a-week visits by Soar Physical Therapy, a Rural Clinics Community Mental Health Services, and by next year, Dr. James Manning Jr. will take over the dental clinic, with the assistance of Dr. Keith McGruder.

“What would really help in this town would be a pharmacy,” she said. “Now patients have to go to Smith’s in Dayton, or to Fernley to get their prescriptions filled.”

Because of the number of uninsured patients, Ostlie said the complex employs a sliding scale, depending on the patient’s means, and offers some free services.

“According to federal guidelines, we can charge $20 per visit, but we don’t charge that,” she said.

The complex accepts all private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, she said.

Though there are still a lot of people who don’t have insurance, the number has dropped in Silver Springs, Ostlie said, estimating that about 25 percent are without any kind of aid in paying their medical bills.

The owners of Eastern Sierra Medical Group, Drs. Edward Simon, John Cassani and Newton Yco are committed to Silver Springs, Ostlie said.

They insist on hiring area residents from Fernley, Silver Springs or Stagecoach, she said, because many people in a rural setting preferred being cared for by someone they know. There are five staff members, outside of doctors.

It hasn’t always been flush, she said. In January 2006, the Silver Springs-Stagecoach Hospital District Board considered hiring another group, but devoted patients showed up at the meeting to protest.

At the time, some believed Eastern Sierra only wanted the contract to check the health of Lyon County’s prostitutes, which they also have.Moonlight Bunnyranch owner Dennis Hof believes the girls partially subsidize the clinic.

“To be a working girl in Lyon County, you have to have their medical tests done by them, or you can go to your own doctor and send the results to them, and they charge a fee to look at the test,” Hof said.

Hof alleged that part of the agreement with Eastern Sierra was they would man the Lahontan Medical Complex.

“That has always been a loser until these people were awarded this contract and part of the agreement is they have to man this center,” he said. “In my opinion without the working girls in Lyon County, that place would not be open.”

But Ostlie said, though the company does receive revenue from the contract involving the prostitutes and the Lahontan Medical Center, the two are separate.

“It has nothing to do with the brothels,” she said. “We don’t have to have this clinic. We could be in any location. Even if they kicked us out of this building, our doctors aren’t leaving Silver Springs.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 881-7351.

FAST FACTS

WHAT: Lahontan Medical Complex

WHERE: 3595 Highway 50 West, Silver Springs, 89429

PHONE: 577-2117

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

TIMELINE

1984 – Dave Cable, John Alexander, and County District Attorney Bill Rogers began to form a Hospital General Improvement District through the Lyon County Board of Commissioners. After ballot approval by the area’s voters, in December 1984 the resolution which founded the Silver Springs-Stagecoach Hospital District was passed by the commissioners. Subsequently, six acres of land were deeded to SSSHD by Lyon County in perpetuity provided that the land be continually used to hold a medical facility.

1985 – The SSSHD board was organized. John Alexander served as its first chairman and Dave Cable held the office of secretary/treasurer. With a $100,000 loan from First National Bank, SSSHD began construction of the Lahontan Medical Center.

1986 Ð Lahontan Medical Center opened.

1994 – Construction began on the building extension that now houses Nevada Mental Health and Nevada Family Services. Because of the added availability of these services, the location name “Lahontan Medical Center” was changed to “Lahontan Medical Complex.”

2005 – New dental facility is completed. Search begins for a community dental provider.

2006 – SSSHD board considers changing the medical provider, but Eastern Sierra Medical Group wins contract.

2007 – SSSHD board votes to approve agreement with Dr. James Manning Jr., DDS, the board voted unanimously to approve the agreement. Also, the Lyon County Commission votes to approve a restricted license for Dr. Keith McGruder, DDS, to work with Manning.


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