by Carleen Wild, Moody County Enterprise
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held this past week for a tribal health care project years in the making. Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal officials along with health care staff, and about a dozen others gathered on the land right next to the Wicoicaga Otipi Community Center on Broad Avenue.
A new $11 million, 36,000 square foot health care center is slated for construction, with a completion date of August 2017.
Tribal President Tony Reider and attorney Seth Pearman told the Enterprise the new facility will be home to a new clinic with expanded services, including mental health care.
Former Tribal Health Clinic Administrator Justin Taylor helped break ground on the project. Taylor only recently left after working on the project the past three years, for a new role with Sanford Health.
Taylor said the new state-of-the-art clinic will be an incredible asset for the community, and help the tribe recruit medical staff they previously had a tough time bringing to a smaller town.
“There’s just such a disparity in health care in Indian Health Country, period. The building, it’s just going to be a monument to the community, but then also the services it will provide — we’re going to be able to bring in and compete for providers, expand our health care services and provide telehealth, and that sort of thing. The opportunities are endless, from a dental standpoint, radiology, all of those kinds of expanded services, even physical therapy, we’ll be able to bring in specialists so that we’re not paying so much.”
The new clinic is a joint venture project with the federal government and FSST.
The tribe has actually had the federal go-ahead on this new clinic since 2007 but only recently did Council approve the funding for the construction of the facility itself. IHS otherwise agrees to cover over a 20 year period, the operating costs, salaries, and the infrastructure of approved facilities.
Henry Carlson is the general contractor on the project. Pearman said that every every subcontractor on the project they have worked to ensure is a local contractor.
“We had a job fair last week so we got some local people hired. If anyone is interested in working, they can come to the trailers here,” Pearman said, of the job site.
Reider added, there will be at least 30 new non-professional jobs at the new clinic as well as more professional roles in x-ray and other services they don’t currently have.
“This is a game changer,” said Taylor.