New acute care ward to expand access to inpatient care

VA photograph Peggy Kearns,

VASNHS Director with VA staff cuts the ribbon for the new acute care ward.

The VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System expanded access to VA inpatient care to local veterans Dec. 3, 2018, with the opening of a new acute care ward.

The new ward initially adds 12 hospital beds to the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center, but will eventually expand to 20 and bring the facility’s total bed inventory to 110.

“We continue to be one of the fastest-growing VA health care systems in the nation and the additional beds were needed to meet the demand for access to care,” said Peggy Kearns, VASNHS Director/CEO. “In fiscal 2018, we managed an average inpatient occupancy rate of 87.7 percent with more than 5,600 admissions and over 29,000 bed days of care. Our community continues to grow by leaps and bounds. We’ve been growing by 3 percent, which is about 2,200 new veterans every year, so this offers us another opportunity for us to meet that growing need.”

“We have some of the highest inpatient satisfaction scores in both the Veterans Health Administration and local community,” Kearns continued. “Veterans come to us because they want to be cared for by the VA. However, there are times where we haven’t been able to meet that expectation due to bed availability.”

Additionally, in recent years during peak periods such as flu season, VASNHS has been forced stand up and staff temporary beds due to limited availability in the community. With the additional ward, VASNHS leaders hope to alleviate some of the issues associated with surge operations.

“Surge activities have a tremendous impact on both veterans and our dedicated employees,” said Dr. Jennifer Strawn, VASNHS Associate Director for Patient Care Services and Nurse Executive. “With an additional ward, we can provide more 24/7 onsite care for our veterans, reduce some of the burden and costs associated with transferring patients to the community, and incorporate a staffing model that reduces overtime and burnout. But most importantly, this expansion ensures more of our patients will quickly receive the right care at the right time.”