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Las Vegas Children May be Lacking Needed Medical Care

LAS VEGAS -- The economy could be forcing more families to hold off on medical care for their children.

University Medical Center says its pediatric emergency room is overwhelmed with children whose parents can not afford medical attention.

Angela Lemke is a single parent on a tight budget with no insurance who admits she has to think twice about taking her son, Cameron to the doctor.

"I wasn't able to bring him in for the longest time. I was backed up on shots over a year," she said.

But on Sunday night, her son's constant pain left her with no choice but to take him to UMC.

"We came in for abdominal pain last night and they ended up finding out he has a hernia and he's constipated," Lemke said.

She tells 8 News Now that there are times she simply can not afford to take her child to the doctor unless it's an emergency. 

UMC Announces Staffing Cuts

LAS VEGAS -- Representatives with University Medical Center have announced major cuts due to the budget crisis.

They say 210 positions at the hospital are being eliminated, many of those positions are already vacant. Some people are being reassigned to other jobs. About 60 people will actually lose jobs.

The county hospital says a $100 million shortfall makes the staffing cuts a necessity.

UMC says they have opportunities for the displaced full time and part time employees, including positions that qualified employees may compete to fill.

Verdict Reached in Hepatitis C Civil Trial

LAS VEGAS -- Jurors have reached a verdict in the hepatitis C civil trial. The jury has found the defendants liable for damages.

The Clark County District Court jury has been deliberating since Friday whether the drug manufacturer Teva Parenteral Medicines and distributor Baxter Healthcare are responsible for 61-year-old Henry Chanin contracting the liver disease.

Chanin got the virus during an outpatient procedure at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center in 2006.

That outbreak was linked to several endoscopy centers in the Las Vegas valley. Those centers were reusing vials of anesthetic during procedures.

Chanin sued two pharmacy companies over the size of those vials. The jury agreed with that and has awarded the plaintiff more than $3 million.

I-Team: Commission Considers Board to Oversee UMC

LAS VEGAS -- Clark County commissioners took another step Wednesday to transform University Medical Center into a full-fledged teaching hospital. But once again, commissioners took no action to relinquish any oversight of hospital operations.

Commissioners talked about a proposal to appoint an operating board to oversee UMC -- a group of professionals with hospital, medical and business expertise.

Commissioners took no action, expressing their reluctance to give up control.

Currently the commissioners serve as the UMC board of trustees and some critics suggest politicians should not be running the hospital.

The trustees considered a proposal to appoint an 11 member advisory board made up of insurance providers, medical professionals and labor, just to name a few. As proposed, the board would oversee the hospital's budget, planning and policy decisions, all subject to commission approval.

First Trial in Las Vegas Hepatitis Cases Begins Today

LAS VEGAS -- Opening statements in Las Vegas' first hepatitis C civil trial took place Monday and it was a good look at how each side will present their case.

While the plaintiffs argue the pharmaceutical companies knew their vials of propofol were too large for use at the endoscopy centers, the defense says their vials were clearly marked for single use.

The plaintiff's attorney told the jury that the pharmaceutical companies being sued were the start of the entire hepatitis C outbreak. He says they were more worried about money than the patients.

"Drug companies are required to put patient safety above profits and if they put profits above patient safety, they must be held fully accountable," said attorney Robert Eglet.

Eglet is representing plaintiff Henry Chanin in the case. Chanin contracted hepatitis C from the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center back in 2006.

Allergy Sufferers Find Relief in Shot Therapy

LAS VEGAS -- The windy weather is making allergy sufferers miserable as it blows pollen around the valley. Instead of enjoying the warm weather, allergy sufferers are sneezing, itching their eyes and battling fatigue.

There's relief and not just in form of pills. More people are opting for allergy shots. One local specialist says allergy shots are becoming more popular. Life is much different for Shawn Vogann than it was just a few years ago. His asthma and allergies were so bad he'd wind up in the hospital five or six times a year.

"You can't breathe. You can't get enough air in and flu like symptoms sometimes," said Vogann.

A windy day would force Vogann to stay indoors hiding from the pollen in the air. That misery continued until he started getting allergy shots. He then began to notice a difference in a matter of weeks.

Trial of Former UMC Director Begins

LAS VEGAS -- The trial is underway in the felony theft and misconduct trial of the former director of UMC.

Lacy Thomas is accused of steering contracts to friends and associates after he was hired in 2004. Prosecutors say Thomas' activities cost the county millions of dollars at the financially-troubled county-run hospital

Thomas was fired in 2007 and charged afterwards. The jury started hearing testimony Tuesday.

During their opening statement, the prosecution outlined five contracts they say Thomas gave to his Chicago business buddies. The DA says Thomas paid his friends companies taxpayer dollars to do work that county employees could have done for no extra charge. Thomas allegedly lied to detectives when they confronted him about these allegations.