Is it time to create a new in-house health care system for mega-resorts? By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports April 8, 2020 at 8:00 pm You would have liked Dr. Joseph Fink. I suppose just about everyone did. The good doctor, locally famous as the house physician at Caesars Palace, died in December 2011 after nearly 50 years as a Las Vegas resident. Fink was smart and funny, and did he ever make “house calls.” The fact he made those calls at what was then the grandest hotel-casino this side of Monte Carlo only made his duty more intriguing. He treated stars for Vegas Throat and a whole lot more. He treated regular guests, too, as well as local patients. Here’s how his family remembered him: “His patients included entertainers, movie stars, gamblers, politicians, boxers, hotel owners and executives; his practice also included hundreds of local Las Vegans who adored him. He never went on vacation, shunned the limelight, and was a phone call away if someone needed his help. He was one-in-a-million and will be greatly missed.” I met Dr. Fink through his son, Gordy Fink, the late great deputy attorney general and Las Vegas sports maven who was slight of frame but once knocked out Mike Tyson in a licensing action. There was some statistic Gordy didn’t know about boxing and baseball, I guess, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. When Gordy died in 1998, he took a lot of his father’s heart with him. Closed Caesars Palace with a heart message/Photo via Caesars Entertainment Doctor Fink moved to Las Vegas with his wife Charlotte in 1962, and he opened a conventional medical practice. As his reputation grew, he made a lot of house calls up and down the Strip. By 1966, he was practically living at Caesars Palace. He eventually moved his practice there and worked with associates out of a specially constructed medical suite. Fink wasn’t the only in-house physician of note. The late Dr. Elias Ghanem made many hotel house calls. And Dr. Donald Romeo, the famous fight doctor, was well known at the hotels. Although he’s probably better known these days as a high-rolling gambler and one of the top insiders of the infamous “Computer Group” sports betting operation of the 1980s, Dr. Ivan Mindlin was once an in-house physician as well. I have been thinking a lot lately about those old-school doctors from Vegas past. In a post-coronavirus pandemic world, I believe the corporate casino executives of Las Vegas will need to substantially rethink their approach to medical and physician care inside the mega-resorts. Clark County firefighter-paramedics take an endless string of calls to the Strip during the year. Fires stations near the casino corridor are the busiest in the nation. And the professional firefighters are a remarkable group of first responders whether rescuing heart attack victims or reviving dehydrated party animals. But their skills and mission only go so far. Although some resorts still contract for on-site physicians, especially on the weekend and for large conventions, a serious conversation needs to take place in an effort to grow medical service availability inside hotels, each of which attract thousands of customers from all over the world throughout the year. As we’re learning, much to our dismay, viruses can travel swiftly and have devastating effects. As we’ve also learned painfully, time is always of the essence. It only makes sense that when the conversation about preparedness for the next potential outbreak takes place, as it eventually will, rethinking the presence of medical professionals on the Strip should be on the agenda. Perhaps that means an expanded emergency medical facility physically closer to the heart of the Strip. Maybe some operations will go back to the future and expand the in-house physician model. While the casino industry’s biggest players prepare for a comeback, it may be the ideal time for some out-of-the-box thinking about putting medical care closer to the action. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at email@example.com. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.