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USDA Helps Improve Native Health Care in Rural Alaska

For most Americans, advanced health care facilities that can treat almost any kind of ailment are just a short drive away.  But picture you or a loved one in your rural community enduring a life-threatening illness or injury, and having to travel hundreds of miles for medical attention.  Compounding the issue are the often treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous, and sometimes closed due to weather.

It’s no wonder that the community of Tazlina, Alaska, in the Copper River Valley, welcomed the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Copper River Native Association’s new health care and administrative facility on a 10 acre site.  The project is a joint venture between USDA Rural Development through a Community Facilities direct loan; U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the State of Alaska. This new facility will replace the existing 40-year old scattered site facilities that were originally slated to be decommissioned or demolished in 1985.  The land has been provided by Ahtna, Incorporated, A Native regional corporation, on a 99 year lease.

“The Copper River Valley is a beautiful, historically important part of Alaska.  When pioneering gold seekers entered the region more than 100 years ago, they found a flourishing Ahtna Native population.  When completed, both Natives and non-Natives will be served by this well-designed facility,” said USDA Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund.

“The construction and subsequent opening of the clinic will eliminate the need for residents in the area to suffer further due to prolonged travel time that can exacerbate a medical problem.  The current center provides dental, audiology, community health aide/practitioner, community health representatives and nursing services, environment health maintenance, and an array of behavioral health and administrative support to approximately 3,000 Native residents of the area,” said Paula Vrana, CEO of the Copper River Native Association.

To find out how USDA’s Community Facilities program can assist your community, click here.

Members of the community stand “shovel ready” at the Tazlina groundbreaking. (Photo by Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund)

Members of the community stand “shovel ready” at the Tazlina groundbreaking. (Photo by Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund)

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