In what proponents are calling "a new model for health care delivery," as well as, repeatedly, "amazing," a new clinic opened up downtown Monday that offers a flat rate for health maintenance.
Dr. Zubin Damania formally opened the Turntable Health clinic Monday evening with a DJ, city officials, onlookers and a non-fiction movie star. A staff of health coaches, who work with the clinic customers, talked about the differences in the clinic model versus traditional health care. The clinic is now open, and for $80, or $60 for kids, or through the Culinary Union-associated Nevada Health Co-Op health insurance, or through an individual health insurance plan, people can sign up for the program.
"This is going to be a part of changing health care... for the whole town and for the country," Damania, who goes by the handle "ZDogg," said at the opening.
Most U.S. insurance companies and medical practices charge a fee for services, a process that some observers and critics of American health care believe leads to excess cost. Damania said the clinic will offer "a flat fee for open access to all our services." Patients can email or phone the clinic, make an appointment for a next day visit or simply walk in.
The existing health care system is, Damania said, "completely broken."
"We need to get prevention right. We need to get primary care right."
Damania, who is a physician and was recruited by Tony Hsieh to leave the Bay Area and come to Las Vegas, told the crowd at the opening that he had his own experience with that broken system. He said he fell while hiking at Red Rock Canyon, and (following an out-of-body experience) went to the hospital to stitch up a cut on his head.
After a long wait, he got three stiches. And several weeks later, a bill from the hospital for $4,000, which after he complained the hospital reduced to $3,500 - or more than $1,150 per stitch.
"I realized then - I know what's wrong with health care," Damania said.
Damania also has the title "director of health care development" under Hsieh's Downtown Project brand.
The clinic staff are managed by Boston-based Iora Care, which also supports staff in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and with the Culinary Union, in Las Vegas. Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle also spoke at the opening.
"The cost of care a lot of times is just obscene," Fernandopulle said at the event. "We have a great opportunity to build practices from scratch around the country."
The clinic itself has traditional exam rooms and other attributes you would see in any doctor's office, but it also has a test kitchen and a dance and exercise studio, which aren't generally found in most clinics.
The Turntable clinic, which is across from Las Vegas High School on Bridger Street, opened with an appearance with filmmaker and activist Morgan Spurlock, various denizens of the Downtown Project and associated Tony Hsieh-related efforts, Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell and dozens of well-wishers. The clinic also offered free flu shots, and in the interest of journalistic investigation, CityLife threw fear of dreaded side effects to the wind and received a vaccination. So far, no problems.