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Patient care the focus of clinic expansion projects

Oct 1, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The $3.5 million upgrade includes remodeled and updated areas at the Arapahoe Health Center.

Tribal members of the Wind River Indian Reservation soon will benefit from additional services offered at Arapahoe Health Center. The office celebrated its completed expansion at 9 a.m. Sept. 12 at the clinic, 14 Great Plains Road, Arapahoe.

Indian Health Services representatives have said the purpose of the improvements is to provide patients of the reservation with high-quality health care and better access to necessary services.

The $3.5 million upgrade includes remodeled and updated areas and was funded by a $1.1 million Indian Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and an IHS 638 Contract. The Northern Arapahoe Housing Authority completed the application process for the grants and collaborated with the IHS and Wind River Service Unit.

Patrick Goggles, director of the Northern Arapaho Housing Authority, said the grants are a first for reservation facilities and will only improve services and their availability for more patients.

An open house -- with guided tours, guest speakers and lunch for guests -- showcased the new pharmacy and X-ray machine, additional lab and X-ray services, updated dental treatment areas, and introductions to new nurse practitioners and other new positions. The facility will now have up to 29 patient treatment rooms and three medical team pods.

"There will be an ability to see more patients in a more effective delivery of service," Goggles said. "There will be an emphasis on women's health and pediatric services and that's a first, in terms of facility designs."

Exam rooms were upgraded and designed to follow required specifications. More pediatric services and pediatric personnel will be added in the prenatal and pediatric areas, staff said, to help minimize and address high infant mortality rates.

The IHS Fort Washakie Health Center also is scheduled to get an upgrade with a $1.1 million grant and additional IHS funding, with an estimated total of about $2 million for the project, Goggles said.

The Fort Washakie Health Center is expected to be competed by the spring of 2014. Goggles said that although the grants are not "specific" to building affordable housing, the elders, children and tribal members living in tribal housing units will be directly and positively affected by better health care services.

"That remains part of our mission," Goggles said. "It's very important to us."

He added that the housing authority was successful in obtaining the grants because they have had clean audits and collaborated with others.

"We have the managerial capacity to oversee those types of funds in those amounts," he said.

IHS continues to offer behavioral health services, an optometrist, nutritionist, public health nursing and orthopedic specialist and an obstetrician/gynecologist.

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Wind River Indian Reservation