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October 4, 2012

A Tale of Two Health Clinics

Meet Zubin Damania and Florence Jameson: Two physicians with plans for much-needed health clinics in downtown Las Vegas, whose respective business models reveal two distinct visions of the area—two different downtowns, for that matter.

Damania is the brains behind the Downtown Clinic, the healthcare element of the Downtown Project, the multipronged revitalization effort funded by Zappos.  Jameson is the founder of Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, which gives free healthcare to impoverished residents who have neither insurance nor eligibility for government-funded programs such as Medicaid.  But Damania and Jameson share other traits—in particular, a deep concern for patients and a desire to find a better, more just way to practice medicine.

VMSN plans to build a 12,000-square-foot clinic downtown with a focus on serving the indigent and working poor, patients who typically don’t have primary care doctors and can’t afford preventive care.  But Damania sees an opportunity to change the way health care is delivered and opts for a hybrid approach.  Part concierge model and part network referral service, Downtown Clinic would offer primary care services through a paid membership, accepting no insurance, with just Damania and an intern on staff in the beginning and then open a full-fledged clinic in a larger space next year.

While Jameson’s model is well established, the Downtown Clinic approach is a whole new formula, says Adam Higman, a consultant for healthcare centers.  The Downtown Clinic, he says, would give patients with jobs and health insurance a handy location for primary care at a fixed cost.  The arrival of Jameson’s clinic, meanwhile, would mean that lower income and homeless people—those often overlooked in downtown development—wouldn’t have to go to the UMC emergency room for routine care.

“If they both do materialize,” Higman says, “it sounds like a great benefit to the community.”

For more information, read A Tale of Two Health Clinics.

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