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Eric Rosenthal Reports
Thoughts and observations about issues, trends, and controversies in the cancer community.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Nevada Cancer Institute Finally Runs Out of Luck and Will Close January 31

One year after the Nevada Cancer Institute (NVCI) announced it had sold its outpatient cancer treatment facility, operations, and other property to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Health System, the Institute said it would be shutting its doors permanently January 31, ending its elusive nearly decade-old dream of establishing a National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Las Vegas.

 

The closure followed a last-ditch effort to lease the clinical facilities to Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada (CCCN), a for-profit oncology practice affiliated with both US Oncology Network and UCLA Jonnson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

The deal fell through when another Las Vegas-based health entity enforced a restrictive covenant and right of first opportunity agreement, according to a statement made from NCCC:

 

“Universal Health Services Inc., which owns Summerlin Hospital and other hospitals in Las Vegas, declined to grant an amendment to the restrictive covenant, which was granted to UHS by the Hughes Corporation when Summerlin was being developed to restrict the use of the property, according to page four, paragraph two, to only ‘a not-for-profit facility devoted to cancer research, education and treatment…’”

 

Numerous calls and emails to UCSD went unanswered by the time this story was posted, and NVCI referred my questions back to UCSD. Requests for comments from UCSD for past stories were also declined or ignored.

 

However, I was able to speak with Nicholas Vogelzang, MD, a medical oncologist with NCCC, who also serves as Chair and Medical Director of the Developmental Therapeutics Committee and Co-Chair of the Genitourinary Committee for US Oncology Research.

 

Prior to joining CCCN, Vogelzang was the first director of the Nevada Cancer Institute, from 2004 to 2009, and agreed to discuss why CCCN was unable to lease what would have been a perfect fit for its expansion plans in the area.

 

He said the facility included medical oncology, radiation oncology, diagnostic, infusion areas, exam rooms, and pharmacy, and CCCN had planned to retain some of the existing staff, physicians, and equipment.

 

“CCCN is busting at the seams with doctors and patients, and now that we’re unable to lease the NVCI facility for 10 years as planned, we’ll have to build to expand,” he said, noting that he did not know why Universal Health Services would not amend the restrictive covenant or how the site would be used.

 

He added that over the years three other oncologists have left NVCI for CCCN including:

Oscar B. Goodman Jr., MD, PhD, who incidentally is the son of former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman and current Mayor Carolyn Goodman; Wolfram Samlowski, MD; and Karen S. Jacks, MD.

About the Author

Eric T. Rosenthal
Eric T. Rosenthal has spent more than 40 years in journalism and academic public affairs, more than half of them involved in the cancer community. He has received several journalism awards as Special Correspondent for Oncology Times, and helped organize two national conferences dealing with medicine and the media.