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 extended distances for medical attention. Compounding the issue – treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous and sometimes closed due to weather.
Now completed a new Native health center in Wasilla means Alaska Natives living along the Parks and Glenn Highways will no longer have to make long 100 mile, round-trip drives to Anchorage to receive routine medical care.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, through USDA Rural Development, provided $40 million in Direct Community Facilities Loan funding and $10 million in a Guaranteed Loan through Wells Fargo Bank. Besides providing construction jobs, the facility will employ 200 staff including healthcare professionals. Available services provided include primary medical care, dental, behavioral health, optometry, health education, wellness and traditional medicine.
In a letter to Katherine Gottlieb, President and CEO of the Southcentral Foundation, Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund noted that “Our participation in this project is a demonstration of President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s commitment to American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the important historic, cultural and social values embraced by America’s indigenous populations.”
The Valley Native Primary Care Center is the latest in a series of investments made by USDA in rural Alaska to support clinics, hospitals and the provision of emergency medical services.
Amid the diverse, bustling crowd of community celebrants, Tribal dignitaries and government officials, a single overarching tenet was shared and agreed upon: the power of relationships made this facility a reality.
To find out more about how USDA Rural Development can help your community reach its goals, click here.