Renown Health and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) announced today their intent to develop plans for a proposed long-term partnership designed to enhance Nevada’s medical education system, expand clinical research capacity in northern Nevada and create a world-class healthcare network.

The collaboration between Nevada’s oldest medical school and one of its largest non-profit healthcare organizations is well underway, with the organizations executing a Letter of Intent. The final agreement with details of the arrangement is slated to be signed by the end of the year.

“Over the last 50 years, Renown Health has been an important UNR Med partner. We share a common vision, and recognize how expanding our collaboration will benefit the community through increased access to care and expanded clinical training and research programs. We know we can do more together than we would be able to do separately,” said UNR Med Dean and Vice President, Health Sciences, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., professor, family and community medicine. “As healthcare professionals, we are forever changed by the events of the last six months. This new affiliation acknowledges our changing educational and healthcare environment, and advances our state-wide vision of A Healthy Nevada.”

Like many healthcare systems and medical schools across the nation, Renown Health and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine have worked together for decades to advance a mutual commitment to improving the health of the community. Over the last five decades, UNR Med has educated more than 3,900 physicians with over 30 percent practicing in Nevada, increasing access to care for residents across the state. Equally rooted in the community, Renown’s long legacy of service started in 1862 as a county hospital, Washoe Medical Center. Now, Renown Health serves the community by providing care through hospitals, outpatient medical offices, institutes and an insurance plan, Hometown Health.

Expanding on their long history of collaboration, both Renown Health and UNR Med have new strategic plans based on recruiting top-tier physicians and healthcare professionals, improving access to and developing new models of innovative care, and investing in clinical research. As pillars of healthcare in northern Nevada, both provide key services for underserved populations and collaborate to educate, train and employ the next generation of doctors and healthcare professionals to support the health of local and rural communities, the state and the nation.

“This new agreement builds on the close collaboration we have had for many years with UNR Med leadership,” says Anthony D. Slonim, MD, DrPH, FACHE, President and CEO, Renown Health; who also serves as professor of clinical medicine and pediatrics at the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine. “We have collaborated in research, medical education, grant funding for public health, clinical trials and integrated clinical practices to improve access and affordability of care. We both serve communities with significant health needs and socio-economic challenges that have worsened through this pandemic. We recognize that this new level of affiliation will drive innovation and research that improves the health of our community, and together, we can be more effective in creating a healthier Nevada.”

University of Nevada, Reno President Marc A. Johnson, PhD, said, “Physicians, clinicians and clinical researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and Renown have worked together to care for patients during the COVID-19 crisis, from the bedside to the research labs, and to the medical offices. That is a powerful example of the partnership between the two organizations as we have faced a historic pandemic. This new agreement reinforces what has already been a strong and impactful partnership. It promises to extend the healthcare mission of our School of Medicine and Renown for a community benefit that will be felt far beyond the next generation.”

James DeVolld, board chair of Renown said, “During such a difficult time for our community, we are thrilled to bring two great organizations together, and present the community with such a precious gift. We have an urgent imperative to transform the delivery and financing of healthcare. Health systems and medical schools across the country are collaborating in innovative new ways, finding new efficiencies and better solutions by sharing clinical experience, intellectual resources, grants and community support.”

Max J. Coppes, MD, PhD, Professor and Nell J. Redfield Chair of Pediatrics at UNR Med and Physician-in-Chief at Renown Children’s Hospital, added, “We are thrilled to have the support of so many elected officials, UNR Med students, alumni, donors, and community members to advance a mutual commitment to ensuring that people in northern Nevada can get top medical care right here at home. The envisioned integration will result in better access to state-of-the-art patient care, enhance and expand our ability to teach the next generation of healthcare providers, and actively engage in medical research, bringing new clinical research trials to our area.” Dr. Coppes noted the partnership’s previous success in 2014 when Renown Health and UNR Med collaborated in launching a transformation of Renown Children’s Hospital, the region’s only children’s hospital dedicated to full pediatric services.

Dean Schwenk will present the Letter of Intent to the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents on Friday, September 11. With NSHE regent approval, the affiliation will enter a period of review and due diligence within the organizations and with the relevant regulatory and oversight bodies. Until then, it will be business as usual within the two organizations. The process is estimated to continue through the end of the year.

“Together, we can bring a higher level of world-class care providers, leading-edge care and new delivery approaches to meet the needs of people in our community,” said Sy Johnson, MBA, and Chief of Staff for Renown Health. “This is what we call Destination Health, enabling patients and families, including both local patients and those traveling long distances, to receive the most comprehensive medical care, right here at home.”

The planned integration resembles other partnerships such as Washington University—Barnes Jewish Health System, Yale New Haven Health System, Penn Medicine, and RWJ-Barnabas-Rutgers. These partnerships expand medical education training opportunities for students and residents, retain more physician graduates in the community, recruit prominent physicians and researchers and build a more robust healthcare workforce.