Desert Springs Hospital Leaves Legacy of Quality Patient Care, Heartfelt Memories

Monday, March 13, 2023
Desert Springs Hospital Leaves Legacy of Quality Patient Care, Heartfelt Memories

Desert Springs Hospital has ceased inpatient operations, leaving behind 52 years of caring for patients, multiple awards for quality care, a reputation for cardiac expertise and legions of talented employees and physicians who have remained in Las Vegas or relocated to other states to share their expertise, dedication and compassion.

“Our team, past and present, has created an unforgettable legacy of Desert Springs Hospital, and we hope our community will remember us as a team who provided kind, compassionate healthcare expertise to our patients and their loved ones,” said Chris Loftus, CEO of Desert Springs Hospital, who joined the team in January 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospital, which was originally a nursing home known as Four Seasons, officially opened as Desert Springs Hospital around November 21, 1971, under Charter Medical Corporation, and was later part of Quorum. It joined The Valley Health System of hospitals in 1998 where it was highly regarded for its expertise in advanced cardiovascular services, weight-loss surgery and diabetes care.

Karla Perez, now Regional Vice President, Acute Care Services, Universal Health Services, was the second CEO at Desert Springs Hospital once it joined The Valley Health System. “Desert Springs Hospital will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my very first CEO job,” said Perez, who oversaw the hospital from 2000 to 2002.

Hospital Specialties and Expertise

Long known as “The Heart Hospital,” the origin of the name is believed to have started when comedian Jerry Lewis underwent double bypass surgery at the hospital in December 1982. Over the next 40 years, Desert Springs Hospital offered advanced cardiac care through cardiovascular surgery, interventional cardiology and electrophysiology procedures and the rapid evaluation, testing and treatment of chest pain patients. It was the first hospital in Nevada to be accredited as a chest pain center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers in 2006.

Desert Springs Hospital began offering weight-loss (bariatric) surgery in October 2004. In 2006, the hospital’s program was accredited as a Bariatric Surgery of Excellence by American Society for Bariatric Surgery, and remained accredited through the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP).

In 2009, the hospital established its wound care and hyperbaric medicine center, caring for patients who had non-healing wounds and required advanced treatment. Meanwhile, the Geropsychiatric program for adults ages 55+ opened in January 2012, providing medical care and mental health treatment for patients with a variety of diagnoses.

Within its 50+ year history, two recent events in the past decade highlighted the expertise and teamwork of the Desert Springs Hospital team. The first occurred during the late night hours of Sunday, October 1, 2017, when staff and physicians cared for more patients than any other Valley Health System hospital following the largest mass shooting to date in the United States. More than 100 patients arrived at the hospital by ambulance, city bus and private vehicle; a group of patients who were stable and had less severe injuries, were later transported to Henderson Hospital for treatment.

The second event, the COVID-19 international pandemic, led to closures of the Las Vegas Strip and most Las Vegas businesses, in March 2020. From the early days of the unknown to the height of the pandemic in January 2022 to its current status as a critical public health issue and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States*, the Desert Springs Hospital team worked tirelessly to provide the best possible care to more than 5,760 patients.

Awards and Accreditations

  • In 2022, Desert Springs Hospital earn two consecutive “A” safety grades from the Leapfrog Group. It was also nationally ranked as a high-performing facility by US News and World Report in its 2022-2023 Best Hospitals report for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Stroke.
  • The hospital was also recognized for three specific awards from the American Heart Association® in 2022, including Get With the Guidelines® –Stroke GOLD Plus with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll; a Mission: Lifeline® – STEMI Receiving Center – GOLD PLUS and Mission: Lifeline – NSTEMI – GOLD.
  • Desert Springs Hospital was awarded three consecutive Gold awards as Best Hospital from the annual Las Vegas Review Journal’s Best in Las Vegas contest in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
  • In 2010, The Diabetes Treatment Center at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center was the first program in Nevada to earn accreditation for its outpatient diabetes education program by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. In 2021, it earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Advanced Diabetes Inpatient Care Certification by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards.

Final Facts

Three of the original CEOs since 1998 are still with The Valley Health System:

  • Karla Perez, now Regional Vice President, Acute Care, Universal Health Services, overseeing the Nevada market
  • Sam Kaufman, now CEO of Henderson Hospital
  • Chris Loftus, current CEO of Desert Springs Hospital

Kim Forbes-Daniels, now Chief Financial Officer, Acute Care Services for Universal Health Services, overseeing the Nevada market, was named the Desert Springs Hospital Controller in 2003.

The 28th annual Health & Diabetes Fest held its final event in 2019, shuttered in subsequent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the highlights in the mid-1990s was the traditional kissing of the pig, given to a business leader who raised the most money for the Las Vegas chapter of the American Heart Association.

“While we are ceasing inpatient services, I know our freestanding emergency department staff will carry on the legacy of Desert Springs Hospital with pride,” said Loftus. “It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.”