THE sole Filipino-American gastroenterologist in Southern Nevada, Dr. Noel Fajardo, is set to unveil a new, state-of-the-art endoscopy surgicenter in the region this December.
LV Surgery Center will be the first surgicenter accredited and approved by the Nevada Department of Health following a 2008 outbreak of hepatitis that was linked to colonoscopy centers that were reusing syringes and anesthesia vials with multiple patients.
“When we decided to put up an endoscopy or surgery center geared toward endoscopies, we wanted to be the first one that would provide the best care. And that’s why, from a Department of Health perspective, meaning [the] Nevada State Department of Health, we were closely watched from the planning [stages],” Fajardo said.
At Fajardo’s new clinic, three features will ensure top safety and care.
First, the new surgicenter will follow new rules set by Nevada’s health department, which state that colonoscopes — the tubes used to inspect the inside of the large intestine — must be thoroughly cleansed in four rooms. This is a change from the old rules, which allowed the cleansing to be done in one room.
In the first room, the tube will be manually washed. In the second, it will be sterilized in a machine. Third, it will be dried with another machine. The fourth room is the sterile room where doctors can obtain a new scope.
The second feature of the new surgicenter is that everything it will use will be monitored by the Department of Health. It will be using one syringe one time per patient.
A third feature Fajardo highlights is that the center will use equipment that is not yet standard of care, such as a new device with three cameras that will provide a 330-degree view, which helps in looking for precancerous growth in the colon. Current devices now provide a 170-degree view, Fajardo said.
Fajardo is currently one of two main doctors at Las Vegas Gastroenterology.
He graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and completed his residency and chief residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Affiliate in New York.
Following his residency, Fajardo specialized in gastroenterology and hepatology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. There, he also obtained an advanced fellowship degree in gastrointestinal motility.
Fajardo, who moved to Las Vegas in 2007, said he initially opened his clinic with the desire for it to provide a type of health care that wasn’t about a patient seeing a doctor because he or she is sick.
“I want the patient to be aware of the diseases so that they can take care of themselves first and we, as doctors, are tools toward this achievement of healthcare,” he explained. “And this is very self-empowering because it has to be the patient actually knowing that they can take care of themselves… So when I … started the practice in 2009, it became my mission to educate the community on the things I know can help the individual.”
Fajardo has also been a strong advocate for the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B in the Asian community throughout the United States. He said he has partnered with community groups as a means of outreach, which in turn helped Fil-Ams be more educated about hepatitis B and colon cancer prevention.
“In the past it was really a challenge to really convince nanay[s] and tatay[s] to get a colonoscopy because the concept is not something that they understand. Why would you go for a test which is very invasive, yet you don’t feel anything?”
Now, however, Fajardo says the number of Fil-Ams requesting for colonoscopies has risen significantly throughout the past few years and that patients are the ones asking doctors to refer them to get a colonoscopy done.
For Filipinos and anybody else with health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, Fajardo wanted to send a reminder that preventative services — including colonoscopies, mammograms, pap smears, and tests for prostate cancer, among other things — are covered 100 percent without additional cost to the insured individual.
An open house for the LV Surgery Center is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015 from 10 am to 4 pm at 7315 S Pecos Road, Las Vegas, NV, 89120. An invite-only inaugural red carpet reception at the Mandarin Oriental will take place that evening, with special guests Martin Nievera and pianist Raul Sunico.