Great health care in a small community | NevadaAppeal.com

Great health care in a small community

Ronni Hannaman
Carson Tahoe health President and CEO Ed Epperson’s vision has changed the face of health care in Carson City.
Ronni Hannaman |

As we age, the likelihood we will become more knowledgeable about our Carson Tahoe Health campus becomes more of a certainty.

Like a piece of fine machinery with many miles on it, there are things that can go awry over which we have no control — some body parts just wear out or some lump grows within.

Over the past few years, I have learned first-hand we have an excellent array of qualified, talented physicians and surgeons, rivaling any found in larger cities. I’ve also learned our entire health care facilities are in good hands under the direction of the visionary Carson Tahoe Health President & Chief Executive Officer Ed Epperson.

The “new” Carson Tahoe Hospital opened in December 2005 to great fanfare, but not without some controversy. Epperson states, “In 1999, I felt it was time to revisit our master plan.”

Carson City and the surrounding area was growing rapidly and the existing small campus could not be successfully expanded to meet future needs. Recently, there was another review of the master plan to revisit what may be needed to meet future health care expectations.

His reply to critics who complain, “we need this or that,” is simply “well, why haven’t we done that?” He subscribes to the notion if something is not right, “let’s make it right!” That’s the philosophy driving the continued expansion of CTH from its origins as medical surgical hospital to the regional medical center it is today.

Today, Carson Tahoe Medical has facilities in Mammoth Lakes, Yerington, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Dayton and in the Minden/Gardnerville area. You’ll even find CTH walk-in clinics in area Walmart stores.

Under Epperson’s direction, the land off Medical Parkway has become the “one-stop” shop for many health care services. The campus continues to grow to provide doctors the opportunity to build their own specialty care centers, further enhancing the CTH experience.

He is proud of the many fine doctors now in residence or working within the system.

“We do not have problems attracting good doctors and have attracted some of the finest for the size of our community. Other doctors want to practice here because of the reputation of our doctors,” he said.

Today, CTH boasts 240 board-certified physicians offering more than 35 medical specialties.

Known for excellent cardiac care, Carson Tahoe Cardiology reaches far and wide. There are now six clinics staffed by renown board-certified cardiologists,

Local resident and retired professional nurse Carol Swanson writes, “When I needed a valve replacement surgery, I was told by my physician that the top valve guy on the West Coast is right here in Carson City. Dr. Todd Chapman proved that to be true. As a registered nurse, I’m very critical about medical care. Every aspect of my open-heart surgery and treatment at Carson Tahoe by Dr. Chapman and his staff was impeccable”

As the campus grew, there was “more and more pressure to be our own system and not a cog in someone else’s system,” stated Epperson. His board made a conscious decision to grow and not be swallowed up by other health care systems that were lining up to acquire CTH.

Understanding not one health care system can be all things to all people, when Epperson saw physicians referring patients to the University of Utah Medical Center, one of the finest research and teaching hospitals in the United States, and their Huntsman Cancer Center for specialty care, he fostered a partnership with these facilities. He expressed, “Their values are the same as ours and they have a proven record of working with – and not acquiring – other medical facilities.”

Because of this unique relationship, CTH doctors can immediately treat stroke patients through the U of U Telestroke program, offering a 24-hour on-call neurologist, thus saving many lives.

The relationship with Huntsman Cancer Center is a coup for regional cancer patients.

“The Carson Cancer Center was never meant to be a tertiary cancer center and the relationship is working well for all,” commented Epperson.

What’s ahead for Carson Tahoe Health now the region is expected to once again boom? Epperson has already purchased the once privately owned Sierra Surgical Center and plans are to add an additional 30 rooms to the existing 15 within the center. “These additional beds are a good starting point,” he added to allow for planned patient growth.

Recently, the Mallory Behavioral Health Crisis Center, in the former hospital on Fleishmann Way, opened.

“On any given day, 20 emergency room beds become occupied by those with mental health issues that cannot be treated by the traditional emergency room doctor,” remarked Epperson, further stating this will free the main emergency room to better treat patients needing immediate care.

Funded by the Mallory Foundation, the behavioral center will provide a higher level of service to those with mental health issues.

Soon, Dayton residents will have their own licensed emergency room as part of the growth planned on the 10 acres owned by CTH.

Under the direction of Ed Epperson and a committed board of directors, trustees and other committees, we have an amazing array of patient care unparalleled for our community of 55,000.

Gil Yanuck, chair of the CTH Board of Trustees and a member of the CTH Board of Directors, sums it up,

“The more involved I get with the operation of the hospital; the more impressed I am with the way it is managed. I would add, the majority of the community does not realize what a “gem” they have sitting up on the hill.”