County Considers Changing Management of UMC - 8 News NOW

County Considers Changing Management of UMC

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LAS VEGAS -- Clark County's only public hospital could soon be run like a private hospital.

The idea is to make University Medical Center more competitive, but because the county owns the hospital, some workers said they fear too many decisions that involve using taxpayer money will be made behind closed doors.

UMC gives away $250 million in free health care every year.

Some cities, such as Detroit, have sold off their public hospitals. Other taxpayer-funded hospitals are designed to have the benefits of a private hospital, but the idea is making some union members uneasy.

Members from the Service Employees International Union filled the commission chamber at the Clark County Government Center, worried about the future health of their workplace, UMC.

Nurse Jerry Strasser said he has worked at UMC for 31 years and objects to a proposal that would create a new hospital oversight board.

"To change the management model, we don't need to," he said. "I've always believed that it's the best asset that this community has, and it's changing it into something that looks like a corporate entity."

The county commission met Wednesday to vote on sending the plan to the state legislature, which would have the final say.

The union said it fears the new board would make decisions about the public-owned hospital in secrecy, moving UMC toward privatization.

UMC CEO Brian Brannman said he believes changes are needed so the hospital can better compete with private hospitals.

"I want to make sure that our employees have a safe and secure place where they work everyday and they're not getting into a climate where people are questioning the sustainability of UMC," he said. "So how do you walk that tight rope?"

Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he wants transparency with taxpayers' money.

"The hospital is losing a lot of money and we are very concerned about the future of the hospital," he said.

Earlier this week, the I-Team exposed $19 million in waste at UMC during a six-month period.

Sisolak said the hospital contracts must be public and no one should serve on the board who has a conflict of interest.

Commissioners will hear a second opinion Dec. 5.

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