New Las Vegas Councilman Brian Knudsen offers a positive prognosis for the health of the city’s medical district, the bulk of which is in his ward.
Knudsen, who was elected three months ago to represent Ward 1, told State of Nevada that the UNLV Medical School, a discussed expansion of University Medical Center, and a proposed children’s hospital have the potential to improve medical care and create jobs.
“The mission of the medical district is by 2030 the Las Vegas Medical District will be the clinical care, research, wellness, education and training center for Southern Nevada,” he said.
Knudsen said while Sunrise Hospital has a children's hospital the level of care in Southern Nevada is not like it is in other communities, for instance, his hometown of Salt Lake City.
He has personal experience with the lack of healthcare for children because his son was hospitalized at UMC last year. He said he received excellent care, "but there is a lack of specialists in our community, there’s a lack of residencies, there’s a lack of research focused in on children’s healthcare needs.”
While the children's hospital is still a plan for the future, Knudsen said the plan for UNLV's medical school is moving forward.
He said recent Board of Regents' action to address financing for the medical school's building brings it closer to reality. The project has been slowed by private fundraising challenges faced by UNLV.
“I have a high degree of confidence in UNLV and our state,” he said.
Knudsen said the project will move forward once the school and the state come to an agreement on what the building will look like but the land and the financing for the project are in place.
He expects it will be up and running in the next four to five years.
A meeting with real estate developers, Knudsen said, convinced him that additional investment would follow progress on the medical school. He added that healthcare development increases demand for other types of employment, such as for office and restaurant workers.
“The developers are really kind of waiting,” he said, “about when shovels go in on that medical school.”
But with a medical school flourishing, an expanded UMC and a potential children's hospital, the need for housing in the area will increase - substantially.
“My job is to make sure the housing is responsible to the growth in the community but also protect and preserve the neighborhoods that are around there that are really the historic part of Las Vegas,” Knudsen said.
With more jobs and more housing comes more traffic. The city is already investing money into revamping Rancho Drive and the Charleston corridor but Knudsen would like to see light rail eventually link UNLV's campus on Maryland Parkway with the medical district on Charleston and the College of Southern Nevada campus on Charleston and perhaps one day Downtown Summerlin.
The Las Vegas Medical District is just west of downtown, generally the area around Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive, near University Medical Center.
Brian Knudsen, Las Vegas Councilman, Ward 1
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