Derek Ray 5:51 p.m., May 19
The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that UCSD is closing down its Nevada Cancer Institute by December 31, leaving an unknown number of employees out of work for the holidays and raising a host of unanswered questions about the university's highly hyped decision to enter the competitive Las Vegas health market just eleven months ago.
According to the R-J's account, cancer institute CEO Mickey Goldman gave workers the bad news on November 5, saying that Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada would acquire some aspects of the operation and take over the lease on the institute's office and clinical space, but that details remained sketchy.
UCSD announced its highly touted and costly Nevada initiative on January 23 of this year.
“We are proud to have Nevada Cancer Institute join UC San Diego Health System,” Tom McAfee, then interim CEO of UC San Diego Health System and dean of clinical affairs, was quoted as saying in a university news release at the time. “As a world-class health system for cancer and surgical care, UC San Diego is fulfilling its mission of caring for patients locally, nationally, and around the world.”
"Plans for UC San Diego NVCI include the recruitment of medical and surgical oncologists, as well as beginning a national search for a physician-scientist to serve as director of the institute," the release continued. "Insight Oncology, a management services organization, will assist with the integration of the two organizations and provide operational oversight of the flagship facility."
It added, "UC San Diego Health System purchased NVCI with clinical revenue generated by its hospitals. No state funding was utilized."
Today's R-J report says that the non-profit institute was started ten years ago in "an attempt to attract both research and higher quality care to the Las Vegas area." But the operation was forced into bankruptcy after running up almost $100 million in unpaid debt, the paper said.
"USCD emerged as the only bidder after more than a year of canvassing interest across the country," according to the R-J, "agreeing to pay $18 million but only after receiving promises that it would receive $20.8 million in donations over a five-year period from the Nevada Cancer Institute Foundation, the fundraising arm. Goldman, an oncology management consultant based in Rancho Mirage, Calif., was tapped as the new CEO.
"Initially, he said, UCSD planned to take three years to reach the break-even point or better after several years of losses and invested an undisclosed amount in building the medical practice.
"But a change of leadership at the UCSD health system, concerns raised by the administration of the University of California system, cost overruns at a major project in San Diego and a change in California tax rules that cost UCSD more than $10 million combined to cause a change in direction."
UCSD declined comment, the R-J reported.
Paul S. Viviano, formerly Chairman of the Board and CEO of Alliance Healthcare Services, was named permanent CEO of the UC San Diego Health System by university regents in May and assumed the post in June.
We'll call him in the morning.