The Health Care Headliners awards recognize some of the best researchers and health care providers in Southern Nevadan medicine. These nine individuals are dedicated to the well-being of the people in our community and their hard work is ensuring the best possible care for Nevadans today and for future generations. These honorees' stories are moving and their dedication to the people they attend to is inspiring.
The 2023 Health Care Headliners originally appeared in a special issue of Vegas Inc’s Health Care Quarterly. Sign up to get each of Vegas Inc’s special publications delivered to your inbox on the day of their release.
Associate Director of Maternal Child Services, Health Plan of Nevada | Years in health care: 10
We live in an era of significant technological advancements in medicine, health care, and treatment but continue to see maternal morbidity and mortality rise,” said Katie Nease, associate director of Maternal Child Services at Health Plan of Nevada. “The traditional, modern model of care during pregnancy is not working, and we are all charged with finding solutions.”
Nease’s career in health care began with a desire to help people, based on her own childhood experiences with medical care for her severe asthma. Becoming a mother inspired her to pursue nursing and she found an instant passion for birth and the birthing experience that shaped her education. “I feel very proud to work for this company because we are changing lives and making a difference,” Nease said. “Healthy communities build healthy humans, and it is worth it!”
Nease played a critical role in designing and implementing the HPN Doula Program. This program aims to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and infant outcomes by providing support from trained doulas to empower and assist women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. The HPN Doula Program has helped address the health care disparities experienced by African American families, especially in childbirth.
The advice Nease would give to women who are planning to become pregnant is to start preparing early. Nease recommends a healthy lifestyle, including adequate sleep, healthy eating, hydration, and physical activities to prepare for pregnancy. She also advises individuals to schedule preconception visits to discuss a care plan.
Community-Based Programs and Program Director for the Primary Care APP Fellowship Program, Intermountain Health | Years in health care: 34
Robert Vadovic, Medical Director for Community-Based Programs and Program Director for the Primary Care APP Fellowship Program at Intermountain Health, is passionate about education. “The thing I enjoy most,” Vadovic said, “is teaching providers. When a provider has an issue with a patient and we can walk through the situation and find a solution, it is so rewarding.”
Vadovic says he is a tool to help others succeed. He aids not only the patients under the care of his programs, but also the health care providers that work with him.
Recently, Vadovic had the opportunity to present two lectures at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ annual conference where he discussed the topics of mentorship and population health. Vadovic is an advocate for continuing education for providers and is a member of the Intermountain Health Nevada Clinical Education Committee. This committee was responsible for establishing the 90-Day Medical Assistant program, which creates career opportunities in underserved areas while alleviating staffing shortages. Vadovic himself practices what he teaches and is currently pursing his masters in health administration.
Local students also have the opportunity to benefit from Vadovic’s guidance and mentorship. He is a community partner with the UNLV School of Nursing. Every year he works with Intermountain Health to provide stethoscopes to incoming nursing students. He also serves as a mentor for UNLV’s senior-level nursing students. Additionally, Vadovic is an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Touro University and is a former instructor for the Red Cross.
Medical Director, UMC Children’s Hospital | Years in health care: 43
The first woman to be elected as UMC’s chief of staff, Meena Vohra has been instrumental in leading pediatric care in Southern Nevada since 1991. Vohra is directly responsible for revolutionizing UMC’s pediatric department from having one emergency pediatrician to a full-scale children’s hospital.
She now serves as the Medical Director of UMC Children’s Hospital, where her expert team of medical professionals provides life-saving care to local children on a daily basis.
From 1991 to 1993, Vohra was the sole specialist covering the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. She took care of the critically ill children with few resources, not leaving Southern Nevada a single time in those years, knowing that her presence could mean life or death for a child. Now, following her vision for Southern Nevada, more children than ever before have access to critical health care.
As the chief of staff, Vohra now has the opportunity to provide leadership to the medical staff at UMC—a team comprised of more than 1,000 physicians. Her guidance and support allows providers to deliver the highest level of care. “As the medical director of UMC Children’s Hospital, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside a dedicated team of professionals to introduce valuable new services for children and recruit a growing number of world-class physicians to Southern Nevada,” Vohra said. “UMC Children’s Hospital now stands as a pillar of hope for children and families across our community.”
Clinical Manager of Social Services, Southwest Medical Hospice | Years in health care: 10
Stephen Hendrix believes that the best way to create a better community is to be an example of what a better community would look like. He said, “In such a divided culture and country as we are in today, it is critical now to emphasize and behave in ways that show how we are alike and changes we would like to see, as opposed to allowing our community to become more disjointed.”
Hendrix truly exhibits this philosophy in his work as the clinical manager of social services with Southwest Medical Hospice. After finishing his contract with the Air Force, Hendrix tried several careers without finding his passion. In 2010, he volunteered to work disaster relief following a tsunami in Thailand. It was through this period of service that Hendrix realized that finding connection through adversity and appreciating the simple joys of life brought him the fulfillment he had been seeking. Upon his return to Las Vegas, he knew he wanted to find a job that allowed him to share that same connection with others. Hendrix found his calling in palliative and hospice care.
People who know and work with Hendrix says he has a gift for meeting people where they are at. Even though the patients and families that Hendrix works with are often at their lowest points, he is able to validate their experiences through their vulnerability and provide them with solutions and thoughtful care. Hendrix’s dedication to those in end-of-life care surpasses just medical or social work, though both are noble pursuits. He reestablishes hope and purpose and acts with kindness and grace in a workplace full of emotional, mental, and physical turmoil.
Medical Director of Echocardiography & Sports Cardiology, Las Vegas Heart Associates | Years in health care: 16
Alfred Danielian is a cardiologist specializing in sports cardiology and interventional echocardiography for structural heart disease procedures. He is currently the medical director of echocardiography & sports cardiology of Las Vegas Heart Associates, in addition to being the head team cardiologist for local sports teams the Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas Raiders, Las Vegas Aces, UNLV Athletics, Henderson Silver Knights, NBA G League Ignite, and Las Vegas Aviators.
“I have a particular interest and passion for the care of the athlete’s heart,” said Danielian. “I chose this career in the health care industry to provide empathetic and personalized patient care of the highest quality.” This quality care extends past professional and collegiate athletes. Danielian also volunteers his time with underserved youth by conducting free pre-participation cardiac examinations, including electrocardiography and echocardiography for local youth athletes in the community in conjunction with LV Sportz Foundation.
Danielian is a member of the American College of Cardiology Nevada State Chapter Council and the American College of Cardiology Sports & Exercise Cardiology Leadership Council, where he advocates for the adoption of heart-healthy policies in health care systems and healthy communities in our region. He also recommends balance in individuals’ personal and professional lives, including routine exercise and adherence to a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.
Dr. Yevgeniy 'Gene' Khavkin
Medical Director, Khavkin Clinic | Years in health care: 35
Yevgeniy “Gene” Khavkin moved to Las Vegas in 2010 and established the Khavkin Clinic, a multispecialty practice of which he is the medical director. The goal of the clinic is to provide patients with the best and most ethical medical care from a team of highly skilled medical professionals. Khavkin is a board-certified neurosurgeon and fellowship-trained spine surgeon who aspires to provide noninvasive surgery options and limit the use of opioids for pain management.
In his specific area of expertise, Khavkin has the opportunity to perform rare and complicated procedures. Khavkin said, “Recently, I performed a complex surgery on a patient with a spine tumor who was losing the ability to walk. After the surgery, the patient regained strength in his legs and the ability to ambulate. Surgeries and experiences like this make decades of training well worth it.”
Khavkin’s training started when he was only 16 years old, attending medical school in Russia. He later moved to the United States and transferred to the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. After finishing his neurosurgical residency at the University of Chicago, Khavkin completed a fellowship in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Khavkin has served as the director of neurosurgical spine services at Northwestern University and as the director of spine and neurosurgery service at the Spring Valley and Centennial Hills hospitals. He is also engaged in international humanitarian work, improving medical care in Eastern Europe and contributing to Jewish Healthcare International and Eagle Condor International. Khavkin also performs free surgeries for uninsured patients as part of Helping Hands Surgical Care.
Dee Dee Meevasin
Owner and Primary Clinician, Dee for Dentist | Years in Health Care: 28
The company vision of Dee for Dentist is “live long and smile more.” As the owner and primary clinician of the practice’s two locations, Dee Dee Meevasin puts that vision into practice. She got her start in dentistry in high school when she spent the summer assisting with her local dentist. Meevasin continued working as a dental assistant through college while earning her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences before returning home to Las Vegas to attend UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine.
A native of Las Vegas, Meevasin is committed to serving the community she calls home. She encourages everyone to visit their dentist regularly to maintain good oral health and avoid more serious dental procedures. To help motivate people to engage in preventive and other dental care, Meevasin works hard to make the latest technological innovations and techniques available to her patients, including anesthesia-free options for cavity fillings and laser dentistry to replace anxiety-causing tools that discourage individuals from seeing the dentist.
Meevasin also prioritizes giving back to the community. Dee for Dentist hosts an annual Freedom Day, where the practice provides free dental care for local veterans and their families. She also spearheaded the Fills Good program through which they have fundraised and raised support for local nonprofits. In 2019, Meevasin became a clinical partner and area director for Team Smile, a national organization that provides dental care to underserved children.
Research and Science
Professor of Pathology, Interim Research Director, and Chief Research Officer, Touro University Nevada | Years in Health Care: 30
Aurelio Lorico has been practicing medicine and actively participating in medical research since 1983. “I graduated in medicine with the intention to devote my life to biomedical research and try to find a cure for cancer,” Lorico said.
After graduating from medical school, Lorico received his post-doctorate degree at Yale, where he researched the biological function of the multidrug resistance protein 1 gene. He moved on after eight years and became senior scientist at the Norwegian Cancer Center in Oslo, where he pursued research in gene therapy of hereditary diseases.
Lorico is a professor of pathology, interim research director, and chief research officer at Touro University Nevada, where he leads a global research team. The mission of this research team is to develop more effective cancer treatments. They have successfully designed multiple drugs that prevent cancer metastasis by targeting and blocking communication between cancer cells and normal cells.
Lorico’s favorite part of his work is being able to discuss science with his collaborators. He also enjoys following his intuitions about the mechanism of disease and attempting to validate them in the lab. Over the course of his many years as a scientist and educator, Lorico has mentored numerous peers and students, bolstering the next generation of doctors and researchers and making an indelible mark on the future of cancer care.
Chief Operating Officer, Southwest Medical, part of Optum | Years in Health Care: 35
Toni Corbin began her 35-year career in the medical field focused on direct patient care. When her young son was in a serious accident, requiring him to undergo multiple complicated surgeries before the age of 5, Corbin had to navigate the health care system at every level to advocate for her child. Most of the health care providers that she worked with directly showed dedication and compassion in their careful treatment of her son. These providers inspired Corbin to pursue a larger vision by bringing that same level of compassion to the administrative side of health care.
As Southwest Medical’s chief operating officer, Corbin has led the business in innovation. She said, “I’m excited about the future of technology in health care, and a wealth of advancements we’ll be adopting at Southwest Medical in the near future. We have so many tools, including artificial intelligence, remote health delivery options, and others that will further advance quality of care and provide for early disease predictions for patients.”
During the pandemic, Corbin utilized her unique skill set to expand Southwest Medical’s NowClinic telemedicine platform to provide virtual appointments to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving medical crisis. She also implemented curbside testing sites, which were modified to vaccination sites with the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. In her tenure as COO, Corbin has worked to combat the staffing crisis, opening more than 40 clinics and increasing the staff of providers by almost 20%.