Friday, Feb. 27, 2009 | 2 a.m.
I think it was the Frank Gehry-designed steel windows and archway at the Ruvo brain center that funneled cold blasts of arctic air onto the 150 people attending last week’s joint partnership announcement with the Cleveland Clinic.
Cleveland Clinic, a leading nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center, was founded in 1921. In 2007, the clinic had 3.5 million outpatient visits, combining clinical and hospital care with research and education.
I had been skeptical about Gehry’s design on paper. For one, it looks like the late artist Salvador Dali painted the building’s apparently melting framework. I also wondered how people with dementia would take to the facility that was created to treat them.
But as I drove up Grand Central Parkway and got a panoramic view of the $100 million building with its neighbors, it hit me: This building is fantastic. It brings an element of design and allure to the area, and I think Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is right when he says that architecturally minded tourists will be drawn to the building.
Goodman and other dignitaries, including Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign, were at the center Feb. 17 to mark the joining of the two organizations.
Businessman Larry Ruvo referred to the still-under-construction gathering area as “the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle.” There are more than 500 pieces of steel, some weighing as much as 41,000 pounds, he said.
The facility is expected to be complete in three months, he said.
Now called the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the Las Vegas center was the creation of Larry Ruvo, whose father was afflicted with Alzheimer’s. The center, Larry Ruvo said, will “change Las Vegas — the city my father loved so much.”
The goal of the center will be to prevent the disabling symptoms of chronic brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Fortunately the rest of the building doesn’t look like a melting brain, and patients will enter the facility on the other side of the property.
When patients come to the second floor, it’s going to be an experience like none before, Ruvo said. The Four Seasons Hotel is training the doctors and staff, and there will be no waiting rooms for patients to co-mingle.
“This is the epicenter, this is going to become ground zero for these diseases,” Reid said, who also admitted to being at first skeptical of the center’s success. “I have to be honest with you ... (I thought) OK, we’ll see. But we have seen.”
Turning to Ruvo, Reid said, “What you’ve done to stimulate health care and your focus on Las Vegas is significant. Very few things have been brought to Nevada the reputation, the first-class facility, the world-class architect, and also now, world-class medical institution in the world (the Cleveland Clinic). So, Larry, we owe you a great deal.”
Ensign, calling the building “the world’s greatest mousetrap,” said that he hopes people who would otherwise leave the state for brain disorders will now consider the Ruvo Center.
“We’re too great of a community to have to do that,” he said.
Goodman said, “This is a glorious day for this community. We’ve taken a giant step, which now leads us to becoming the world-class city. Up until today, we were a tourist destination, the envy of everybody with the best hotels, best restaurants.”
Addressing Ruvo, Goodman said, “Because of what you’ve done Larry, through your love and devotion for your father, you’ve accomplished the impossible. We are now going to be entering the major leagues.”
Over the wind, now howling, Ruvo said, “The tsunami is coming and they need help, and that’s what we’ve been working on. It has to happen and it has to happen right here in Las Vegas.”
Cleveland Clinic Chief Executive Delos “Toby” Cosgrove said the creation of the partnership started three months ago. “Every now and then, you see two things come together that are meant to be,” he said. “We have a strong commitment to neurological disease, particularly to degenerative neurological diseases. I’m thrilled to see (partnership) this happen. We will leverage the knowledge the global scientists are working on, and this will ultimately benefit mankind all over the world.”
Nicole Lucht covers health care, workplace and banking issues for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. She can be reached at 259-8832 or at [email protected]