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Oncology Times:
doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000410896.48778.47
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Eric Rosenthal reports: Nevada Cancer Institute to Become Part of UC San Diego Health System

Rosenthal, Eric T.

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Nevada's dream to have its own official cancer institute after a series of layoffs and cutbacks this year may be back on track with the help of a California cancer center.

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On December 2, the Nevada Cancer Institute (NVCI) announced it had agreed to sell its outpatient cancer treatment facility, its operations, and other personal property to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Health System as part of a negotiated restructuring that is expected to reduce its debt by more than $50 million.

In April OT reported that NVCI had a debt of some $100 million when it fired its CEO and director, John Ruckdeschel, MD, and layed off half its staff.

NVCI's stated goal since it opened in 2005 was to achieve designation as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, which may now be indirectly realized when it becomes part of UCSD's Moores Cancer Center.

NVCI filed a voluntary petition to restructure under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code, and the sale is expected to be completed sometime in January, according to Heather Murren, a board member who co-founded the institute with her husband Jim, who is the chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International.

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However, until the deal is done other qualified bidders may continue to submit offers for the Las Vegas institute's assets.

Nevada Cancer Institute announced on Dec. 2 that it had agreed to sell its outpatient cancer treatment facility, its operations, and other personal property to the UCSD Health System as part of a negotiated restructuring that is expected to reduce its debt by more than $50 million.

UCSD would not return calls about the sale, but emailed that it was “only offering a statement until the deal is finalized:”

“We are excited about the prospect of bringing Nevada Cancer Institute into the UC San Diego Health System family. We've been impressed with the facilities and quality of staff and the model of supportive care. Anticipating closure of the sale early next year, we are looking forward to becoming a partner in Nevada's health care community.”

San Diego is about 265 miles from Las Vegas and this is not UCSD's first foray into the self-proclaimed “entertainment capital of the world,” since the California health system opened a comprehensive liver clinic in nearby Henderson in August.

Murren told me that NVCI was thrilled by the sale and was honored to become part of Moores.

“This will help us to realize our original vision [to provide the highest quality cancer care and treatments to the region],” she said.

“We took dramatic action in April to get through then, but we have now found a perfect partner with whom we are philosophically aligned.”

She said that “in her former life as a stock analyst,” she found that within other industries it was often more efficient to acquire an existing entity than to build one from scratch.

ERIC T. ROSENTHAL is...
ERIC T. ROSENTHAL is...
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Murren added that once the paperwork is signed, the Moores Cancer Center will “effectively run” NVCI and that additional details will be made available regarding staffing, research and treatment programs, and any name changes.

She said that for the time being operations and patient care would continue and that the current board of directors would still function in a philanthropic capacity.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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