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With USDA Support, A Health Center in Alaska’s Susitna Valley Celebrates a Grand Opening

On a beautiful, bright Sunday in August, members of the Alaska  USDA-Rural Development team met with the leadership of the new Sunshine Community Health Center and other funders to celebrate the grand opening of the new healthcare facility in Willow.  They were joined by members of the surrounding communities which this new clinic will serve, including Willow, Houston and Skwentna, Alaska.

The old healthcare building of some 1,400 square feet had grown outdated in both accommodations for staff and residents needing medical services.  The work space to provide private exams and perform much needed medical procedures was too small and no longer met the required protocols.

“The new building is a 6,800 square foot facility that houses six new exam rooms, allowing the clinic to expand and supply necessary healthcare expertise and services to the residents of the surrounding service area.  It will provide many new jobs ranging from entry-level support personnel to professional and bring higher levels of medical services,” said Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund.

This contemporary clinic was made possible through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act direct loan and grant funds through the Community Facilities Program.  Other funding came from the Denali Commission, Rasmuson Foundation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mat-Su Health Foundation, Alaska State Legislature and local community contributors.

“The overcrowded conditions in our doublewide modular clinic created a huge impact on our ability to meet the demand for both behavioral health and medical services.  Through partnerships and grant opportunities with agencies such as USDA Rural Development we were able to build a new state-of-the-art clinical facility allowing us to increase capacity by 30 percent or more and expand services by adding full lab and x-rays services.  Not only have we been able to increase our capacity and expanded the types of services we offer but we have also been able to provide additional jobs in the local community.  This is truly a win-win situation for all,” said Sharon Montagnino, Executive Director, Sunshine Community Health Center.

Rural Development Community Programs Director Merlaine Kruse stated, “This is the second project we have done with the Sunshine Health Care System.  The first was the Sunshine Clinic in Talkeetna.  Like its predecessor, the Sunshine Health Clinic in Talkeetna, this clinic represents a huge step up from the old facility; will provide expanded services and will serve these communities for many years to come.”

To find out more about how USDA Rural Development programs can assist your community, click here.

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