Welcome to our 12th edition of Health Care Headliners. It’s our chance to introduce you to a few people who are making a big difference in local health care.
The names came from nominations that we accepted on vegasinc.com and resulted in bringing to us some truly outstanding people who have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of our friends and neighbors — especially after the tragic events of Oct. 1.
A special thanks goes to our sponsors: Comprehensive Cancer Centers and P3 Health Partners. We appreciate their support and important role in the health care industry.
Dr. Bard Coats
Market President, HealthCare Partners Medical Group
When Dr. Bard Coats retires, he’ll be able to look back on an impressive four decades of contributions to the health care industry.
They began when the Oklahoma native followed in his older brother’s professional path into health care.
“Seeing the trust that developed with patients over the years of keeping them in good health was my foundation for following his footsteps to the same university and going into internal medicine,” said Coats, who earned his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine.
He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and obtained an executive MBA at the University of California, Irvine, practicing in California prior to moving to Southern Nevada in 1998 and assuming various roles with PacifiCare and UnitedHealthcare. He joined HealthCare Partners Medical Group in 2011 as senior vice president of clinical operations and was named market president in 2015.
“Leading a team of over 1,600 dedicated health care professionals has been the most satisfying experience of my career,” Coats said. “Our company has expanded its services in Southern Nevada by almost 50 percent in the last seven years as we have added services from primary care to hospitalists, cardiology, oncology, OB/GYN, anesthesiology and endocrinology.”
Among his accomplishments, Coats was instrumental in the 2017 launch of HealthCare Partners Pahrump Medical Clinic, which provides needed primary, specialty and urgent-care services along with imaging and diagnostic to Nye County.
“We expect to continue and improve every aspect of our system as we grow our business and programs in support of patients we serve,” said Coats, who supports scholarship programs for medical students, NPR and the Sierra Club. “The pending integration of HealthCare Partners into OptumHealth in 2018 will provide us with more integrated technology to serve our patients and partners here in Southern Nevada.”
Nurse Practitioner, OptumCare Cancer Care
Originally from Kenosha, Wis., Nicoletta Campagna parlayed her inherent compassion and desire to help others in their time of need into a successful nursing career spanning some 20 years.
Campagna — who holds an MBA from Marquette University and a doctorate in nursing practice from Concordia University — worked as a registered nurse in critical care and cardiovascular surgery prior to becoming board-certified as a nurse practitioner. She is also an advanced oncology-certified nurse practitioner and has worked in oncology since 2007.
She joined OptumCare Cancer Care (formerly Nevada Cancer Specialists) in May 2017 as a hematology/medical oncology nurse practitioner.
“As a primary care provider, I provide comprehensive care to patients who have a diagnosis of cancer, as well as their families, in collaboration with health care team members,” said Campagna, who focuses on a patient-centered approach to treatment. “I keep a flexible schedule with open appointments to address urgent issues and symptom management. It is more productive to evaluate the patient on-site where the patient is known to us, rather than sending them to urgent care or the emergency room. With this practice, we have been able to avoid unnecessary admissions.”
Campagna is passionate in her support of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, having travelled to Washington, D.C., for the organization’s Advocacy Days.
“I met with legislators advocating for increased research funding, participating in cancer caucuses and raising awareness,” Campagna said. “I have also been actively involved with the planning and fundraising of Purple Stride Las Vegas, and helped raise more than $135,000 for PANCAN in 2018.”
Dr. Carrie Hersh
Staff Neurologist, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
The daughter of a clinical psychologist, Dr. Carrie Hersh developed an interest in the medical field as a child in Miami. “I became enthralled with the idea of taking care of people for a living by observing my father’s passion in the mental health field,” said Hersh, who holds a B.S. from the University of Florida and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earned her D.O. at Nova Southeastern University, completed an adult neurology residency program at Cleveland Clinic, completed a multiple sclerosis fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center, and earned an M.Sc. in clinical research through the Clinical Research Scholars Program at Case Western Reserve University.
She joined Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in August 2015 as a staff neurologist and has built a clinical practice with a specialty in multiple sclerosis and related disorders.
“I decided to pursue a career in multiple sclerosis to provide long-term, patient-centered care for individuals with a very treatable condition,” said Hersh, who serves as assistant director of the Mellen Health and Wellness Initiative to improve the health of individuals living with MS, and in 2017 assumed the role of site lead for the MS PATHS (Multiple Sclerosis Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions) program.
Hersh is further spearheading efforts to better understand MS as a lead investigator for Cleveland Clinic’s $10.6 million research grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Initiative and MS PATHS. She is assessing two different treatment options — traditional medication escalation vs early highly effective therapy — for relapsing-remitting MS to compare their effectiveness and patient outcomes. This grant marks the first time such comparative research will be conducted, and has the potential to affect many people living with MS.
Dr. John Dougherty
Dean, College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University Nevada
Missouri native Dr. John Dougherty has been immersed in the health care industry since he was a high school sophomore and began working as a certified nurses aid. He went on to work as an orderly and phlebotomist while attending Culver Stockton College, where he earned a B.S. in biology and education. He received his D.O. from the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dougherty, who completed a fellowship in sports medicine, moved to Southern Nevada in December 2015 and joined Touro University Nevada in February 2016 as dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“I provide direct leadership in the education and clinical infrastructure that develops our students into competent, confident physicians,” said Dougherty, who was also instrumental in obtaining approval for Touro to increase its first-year class size from 135 to 181 students. “This growth is a critical component of the pipeline in Southern Nevada to begin addressing our significant health care disparities. Touro, in collaboration with The Valley Health System and HCA graduate medical education, will be key to this success.”
Dougherty also oversaw the restructuring of Touro’s curriculum, improving test scores and first-time board pass rates, making Touro students increasingly competitive to enter into postgraduate positions.
He also helped with the implementation of two mobile health care clinics and instigated a day of service for incoming medical students. The incoming president of the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine, Dougherty also serves on the board of DOCare International, a program that provides health care internationally.
Dr. Steve Huang
Henderson Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center
A native of Irvine, Calif., Dr. Steve Huang is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Henderson Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center. He holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a D.D.S. from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, and went on to complete a residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery at University of Washington Medical Center.
Among his accomplishments, Huang has created several community service programs, including the recent launch of Nevada’s first chapter of Project Save A Mouth, a national initiative that works at local levels to improve oral health awareness, specifically among small children. At a community event announcing the program, Huang encouraged event attendees to take the PSAM pledge — an agreement to help prevent poor oral health — and received an official Proclamation from the City of Henderson for his role in bringing PSAM to Nevada.
The PSAM chapter will hand out educational materials to children, speak at schools about proper oral hygiene, share hygiene information through social media, and distribute toothbrushes at homeless shelters, among other outreach.
Huang also spearheaded the Academic Advantage program, an annual education event for middle school and high school students interested in pursuing careers in medicine or dentistry. The inaugural event took place March 3.
In addition, Huang is launching two charitable initiatives this year, including a program to provide free textbooks for a deserving student for a year, and another to provide a free smile makeover to a deserving Southern Nevada resident.
Regional Vice President, Valley Health System/UHS
Karla Perez’s future began to take shape when she was in high school.
“My career test results indicated a science focus, but I was more interested in administration, and my counselor’s daughter worked in medical records so I thought that would be a good career path,” said Perez, who earned a B.S. in health records administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of St. Francis.
She relocated to Southern Nevada in 1983 and began her 35-year career with The Valley Health System in medical records, advancing to various managerial and C-suite positions, serving as COO of Valley Hospital, CEO of Desert Springs Hospital and CEO of Spring Valley Hospital. In December 2009, she assumed her current position of regional vice president overseeing Nevada acute-care operations for parent company Universal Health Services Inc.
“My days are filled with keeping our strategic plan moving forward in sync with industry dynamics,” Perez said. “This includes developing key relationships, overseeing expansion projects and ensuring caregivers, technology and processes are in place to provide good outcomes for our patients. The opening of Henderson Hospital allowed The Valley Health System to complete its acute-care hospital footprint in Southern Nevada.”
With infrastructure in place, The Valley Health System will now endeavor to provide graduate medical education programs.
“Residencies for upcoming physicians will put us on pace to serve the growing demand for quality health care in Nevada,” said Perez, who is active with numerous philanthropic organizations.
Dr. Michael Scheidler
Pediatric Robotic Surgeon, Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC
A native of Pittsburgh, Dr. Michael Scheidler attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from Temple University School of Medicine with plans to pursue a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon.
“But during my residency, I had a mandatory rotation in pediatric surgery that changed my life,” said Scheidler, who underwent general surgery and research training at Allegheny General Hospital, and completed his pediatric surgery residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and his pediatric trauma fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “After just one month with the pediatric surgery team, I decided to change my entire career path. I didn’t realize how much I loved working with kids.”
Scheidler joined Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC as a pediatric surgeon in 2012. In October 2017, he founded the hospital’s Pediatric Robotic Surgery program, the first and only program of its kind in the state. Since then, Scheidler and his team have performed a wide range of procedures including tumor removal and thoracic surgeries.
“I operate on patients almost every single day, and also focus heavily on teaching residents,” said Scheidler, adding that robotic surgery is particularly valuable for kids with cancer. “Children with cancer are often the weakest and most debilitated, so if you can treat them with a minimally invasive procedure, they can typically recover from surgery in a few days, rather than one or two weeks.”
Scheidler — who is also a faculty member of UNLV’s School of Medicine —plans to develop a pediatric robotic oncology database which will play a valuable role in establishing a benchmark for identifying pediatric candidates for robotic oncologic surgeries. He also looks forward to focusing on bariatric surgery for extremely obese children to help prevent early death.
The Service Squad
HealthCare Partners Medical Group
HealthCare Partners’ Service Squad was imagined in 2015 and launched the following year to provide community outreach services. Comprised of HealthCare Partners employees and supported by hundreds of HCP volunteers, the Service Squad has internal initiatives to support the community as well as lending a helping hand to nonprofit organizations such as Clean the World, St. Jude’s Ranch, Nevada Disability and Aging, Salvation Army, Shade Tree and Peggy’s Attic, meeting twice a month to direct their philanthropic endeavors.
“But it was not until the 1 October tragedy that we had a clear understanding of why we do what we do,” said Yadira Hardy, Service Squad volunteer and senior practice manager. “The Service Squad was on the ground running, and we wasted no time in searching for ways to help. We camped outside of UMC and Valley hospitals to feed tired family members, hospital staff and medical heroes, and partnered with many amazing companies, such as Starbucks, MGM, Dunkin’ Donuts, 4Wall, Chipotle, Tropical Smoothie and Sofrito Rico. The love and energy never faltered during this tragic time.”
Plans are in the works for continued growth and expansion of the squad’s volunteers. In 2018, the Service Squad hopes to increase their capabilities in touching more lives nationally, with a desire to have a larger presence during natural disasters, state-of-emergency calls, and directing efforts outside of Nevada with the hope to travel overseas. HealthCare Partners’ Service Squad has several events planned this year to assist locally, and will continue their work with kids, senior citizens, veterans and others.
Dr. Rupesh Parikh
Medical Oncologist, Comprehensive Cancer Centers
Physicians who saved his life: That’s what inspired Dr. Rupesh Parikh to pursue a career in medicine. When he was 3 years old, he had a bout of severe meningitis that sent him to the hospital with skyrocketing temperatures. His family didn’t think he’d make it. A few years later, when he was 7, fireworks exploded in his face, leaving him temporarily blind.
“Luckily the town that I lived in had one of the best eye hospitals in India,” said Parikh. “Without those doctors, I would not have gotten my eyesight back. It was those experiences that made me want to help people, just like they helped me.”
Parikh received his medical degree from the American University in the West Indies and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, where he also served as chief resident. He completed his fellowship in hematology and oncology from the University of Oklahoma.
Parikh joined Comprehensive Cancer Centers in August 2005. He has served as a principal investigator for many clinical trials and is an adjunct assistant professor for Touro University and the UNLV School of Medicine. He has authored several publications and sits on the St. Rose Medical Executive Committee and serves as chairman of the pharmacy & therapeutic committee at the Dignity Health. Parikh also serves as Chief of Staff for Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican’s Siena and Rose de Lima campuses.
Effective May 1, Parikh will assume the position of practice president for Comprehensive.
“In the near future, I’d like to start working on a ‘Regional Cancer Center’ model that incorporates the treatment of the whole patient under one roof,” said Parikh, who strives to always put the patient first and believes in treating people, not just the disease.
American Medical Response – Las Vegas and MedicWest Ambulance
The 1 October tragedy stands as the most deadly mass shooting on American soil, with 58 people dead and upward of 500 people injured. The numbers could’ve been much higher had it not been for the work of first responders in the valley.
“I led a team of over 330 EMTs and paramedics, and we deployed 106 ambulances to respond, while simultaneously working to meet the needs of every other 911 emergency situation in the valley,” said Scott White, who joined American Medical Response-Las Vegas in April 2013 and serves as regional director. “One of the most worrisome challenges included the safety and welfare of our first responders in responding to what was initially thought of as an active shooter situation. Our responders, who do not have protective gear, would enter the scene and brace for gunfire.”
Just three months later, tens of thousands of people flocked to Las Vegas to ring in the New Year, which called for unprecedented security in the wake of the mass shooting.
“Over 100 ambulances and hundreds of our EMTs and paramedics were deployed to protect the people gathering on the Strip, and teams participated in extensive training and preparation in anticipation of the event,” White said. “I am proud of the work of AMR and its sister and subsidiary MedicWest Ambulance.”
Looking ahead, “We want to continue to provide some of the best care and fastest EMS response times in the country, and are sharing our experiences from 1 October with other communities,” said White. “And this summer, our teams will launch a paramedicine program, where medics will make house calls to sick and underserved populations.”
On the night of 1 October, members of Community Ambulance’s Emergency Medical Services Special Event Team were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival to provide medical standby for concertgoers when the tragedy struck.
Sixteen Community Ambulance personnel were joined by five off-duty personnel who were attending the concert and began assessing, triaging and treating victims of the mass shooting, pulling as many of the injured into a medic tent, which lost power, as well as under stages and behind stand-up bars even in the face of personal risk, using their training and whatever supplies they had on hand to save as many lives as possible.
“We are committed to serving our community and being there when the call comes out,” said Glen Simpson, AEMT and special event manager with Community Ambulance, which is locally based and has more than 260 employees. “We will continue to expand our Stop the Bleed training and visit states across the nation to share our experiences from the terrible events of 1 October, with a focus on how we can be more prepared. As the contracted medical standby provider for the Route 91 Harvest Festival, we responded from within and have a unique perspective of that night.”
Simpson said Community Ambulance also provides services to other local events including National Finals Rodeo and Electric Daisy Carnival. A resource for the community, the company also educates children on 911 safety, and teaches CPR and AED training to the public and youth.
“We have a lot of love for helping others, and are proud to provide the highest level of medical care available,” Simpson said. “We pride ourselves on our focus and dedication to getting the job done right and believe our employees are our greatest asset.”
Nevada Population Health Conference
Holland & Hart; UnitedHealthCare; UNR School of Medicine; UNLV School of Community Health Sciences; UNLV Health Law Program; William S. Boyd School of Law; UNLV School of Medicine; State Bar of Nevada Insurance and Health Law Section; Nevada Bar Foundation; Nevada Public Health Association; Nevada State Medical Association; and the Clark County Medical Society
In 2016, a number of agencies wanted a way to address the health of the Nevada community by studying social issues.
That group — Holland & Hart; UnitedHealthCare; UNR School of Medicine; UNLV School of Community Health Sciences; UNLV Health Law Program; William S. Boyd School of Law; UNLV School of Medicine; State Bar of Nevada Insurance and Health Law Section; Nevada Bar Foundation; Nevada Public Health Association; Nevada State Medical Association; and the Clark County Medical Society — addressed those issues by launching the Nevada Population Health Conference.
Population health addresses multiple elements that influence overall wellness — public health programs, social factors (income, education, employment, social support and culture), the physical environment (urban design, clean air and water), biological factors and individual behavior.
“Our conference is a multidisciplinary effort that includes doctors, lawyers, health plan (administrators), public health professionals, educators, legislators and students discussing ways the community can connect to address a patient’s social needs thereby leading to improved health,” said Connie Akridge, administrative partner with Holland & Hart, who leads the conference committee.
The group also supports the operation and creation of medical-legal partnerships in Nevada. The premise of an MLP is that legal issues patients face may affect their health. Until last year when Nevada’s first MLP was created with a partnership between Washoe Legal Services and the Hopes Clinic in Reno, Nevada was one of a handful of states that didn’t have any MLPs. The group is currently working to form an MLP at the Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada Ruffin Family Clinic.
“With MLPs, health care providers serving low-income patients have another tool to offer the patient with an acute or chronic illness whose health may be adversely affected because of an imminent eviction or an illegal car repossession leaving the patient without housing or transportation to get to work,” Akridge said.
The third-annual Nevada Population Health Conference is slated for Nov. 30 at UnitedHealthcare in Las Vegas.