Monday, January 23, 2012

So What Do We Have?

We have some big, existential questions to answer. Last year, the Nevada Cancer Institute filed for bankruptcy, laid off half its staff, and faced huge financial hurdles going forward. And now, it's confirmed that UCSD will buy the Institute for $18 million. Yes, you read me right. The University of CALIFORNIA San Diego Health System will take over the Nevada Cancer Institute.

UC Regent Charlene Zettel said all UC health systems need to look for ways to increase their patient base and optimize resources to stay competitive. She said the UC San Diego purchase accomplishes that.

“Patients coming from Nevada would mean better utilization of the state-of-the-art facility we have at UCSD Moores Cancer Center,” Zettel said. “It also would be a boost for the San Diego economy because patients and families would be staying here. Most importantly, though, patients would get excellent care from some of the best doctors in California.”

Dr. Thomas McAfee, interim chief executive for the UC San Diego Health System, said buying the 142,000-square-foot, four-story building and its medical practice fits into the long-term growth plan. By broadening its circle of patients, the university can expand its research and clinical trials and boost its education programs, he said.

Certainly, this is good news for cancer patients that rely on the Institute for crucial treatment, and there may be some benefits down the road if UCSD is interested in continuing, or possibly even expanding, research and treatment programs here in Nevada. But still, this has to be a major blow to our civic pride. I mean, come on, we couldn't even save our own Cancer Institute? Even if UCSD continues some sort of research and treatment programs here, the primary mission will be to funnel more patients to UCSD's Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla.

But then again, we probably shouldn't be surprised. After all, listen to Nevada's own "home grown Presidential Candidate".

Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?

We can keep laughing off our failure to invest in our future, or we can finally change it. Why couldn't UNR step in to save the Nevada Cancer Institute? Why do patients in need of procedures like bone marrow transplants have to travel out of state for treatment? When will Nevada be known for more than just big casinos, legal prostitution, and an addiction to the "growth begets growth, and growth pays for growth" idea that's now failing us?

We can't keep expecting casinos and tourism to prop us up. As we've had to learn the hard way, tourists don't spend as much on vacations during times of economic turmoil. You know, two weeks of tech geeks and porn stars do not make a complete and balanced economy. Yes, we obviously still need and appreciate tourism, but we also need to diversify and build the kind of infrastructure that will allow for a healthier economy to flourish here in Nevada.

I guess it's good that the Nevada Cancer Institute will be able to continue as something here in the future, but it's nonetheless saddening that Nevada couldn't even save this crucial piece of its own medical infrastructure.

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