The Clark County Commission on Wednesday considered a proposal to give an independent board control over University Medical Center (UMC). Commissioners debated the idea for three hours but could not reach an agreement.
Michael Collins is a nurse at nonprofit UMC. He fears if county commissioners give up control over the hospital to another governing board, his salary, pension and benefits could be in jeopardy. He is also concerned about the quality of healthcare.
"I see UMC as a public entity similar to the police department and fire department," said Collins. "They provide a service to the community that is mandated by the government."
He and dozens of union workers vowed to fight the proposal if it moves forward. Other community members who help the uninsured are worried the move could lead toward privatizing the hospital.
"UMC receives its funds by taxpayer money," said Emily Persuad of Mi Familia Vota, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing Latino community involvement. "People from the community should be able to go to the meetings."
However, hospital administrators said every year UMC provides $250 million in free care and takes in enough money to cover all but $60 million. UMC CEO Brian Brannman said the hospital needs to change to stay competitive.
"What you see over time is a gradual migration to a business model for a public hospital that assures it's financially viable," said Brannman. "It acts like a private hospital but does have the benefit of some public protections."
Commissioners are divided on the proposal. They plan to vote on it at their next meeting on Dec. 5. Four commissioners need to be on board before it moves to the Nevada Legislature.
Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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