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If you build it, they will come

St. Ignatius Tribal Health Clinic construction project looking to make up for lost time

By B.L. Azure
THHS PIO

The main entrance to the medical, dental and pharmacy portion of the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic will soon look like its architectural renderings once the masonry work is completed. (B.L. Azure photo) The main entrance to the medical, dental and pharmacy portion of the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic will soon look like its architectural renderings once the masonry work is completed. (B.L. Azure photo)

ST. IGNATIUS — The transformation from blueprints to the real deal is very noticeable now at the St. Ignatius Tribal Health and Human Services Clinic construction project.

Bob Hilley, construction superintendent for the general contractor Swank Enterprises of Kalispell and Valier, said the interior sheetrock and painting is nearly complete as is the exterior masonry and iron works. Work will soon begin on installation of the cabinets, floor covering, the ceilings and exterior work such as sidewalks, signage and lighting.

Lead project architect Colin Lane, of Missoula-based MacArthur, Means and Wells Architects, PC (MMW), said the estimated time of completion of the south wing that will house medical and dental programs has been pushed back approximately two weeks. Instead of a mid-June completion date, Lane said the first week in July is now the fluid target date. The long, cold and wet winter with the numerous holidays contributed to the project falling a tad behind schedule. There was also an issue with the timely delivery and on-site assembly of roof trusses and ironwork that added to the new target date.

However, depending upon any unforeseen situations, the project could make up for some of that lost time with the optimal warm weather. The result is the fluid phase two completion date

Willie Stevens, CSKT Facilities manager, and architect Colin Lane discuss change orders with electricians at the new main reception area in the clinic. (B.L. Azure photo) Willie Stevens, CSKT Facilities manager, and architect Colin Lane discuss change orders with electricians at the new main reception area in the clinic. (B.L. Azure photo)

The new clinic will serve as the anchor clinic for the south end of the Flathead Indian Reservation that includes the Arlee THHS Clinic. The Polson THHS Clinic is the anchor clinic for the three clinics — Ronan, Elmo and Polson on the north end of the reservation.

On the to-do list are new THHS clinics in Arlee and Ronan. The Elmo THHS Clinic was remodeled a few years back and is up to grade for the needs in that area.

Tribal Health Director Kevin Howlett said the number and strategic locations of THHS clinics are keys in the comprehensive delivery of health care to tribal people on and off the Flathead Reservation. Health care is a growth industry that accounts for more than 15 percent of the gross national product of the American economy. Besides the delivery of health care, the clinics also are an employment opportunity for qualified members of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai Tribes.

Health care delivery is also an economic opportunity for Tribal Health that recoups funds for services it provides for people with third-party coverage, such as insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and Healthy Montana Kids.

Masons are quickly putting up the exterior brick- and rock-work at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic. (B.L. Azure photo) Masons are quickly putting up the exterior brick- and rock-work at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic. (B.L. Azure photo)

There are also increased opportunities for income through the Affordable Care Act that Tribal Health wants to explore and implement.

The first phase of the project included securing the construction site and setting up the upgraded electrical system.

The second phase included the demolition of the south wing of the clinic that housed, among other things, the Community Health, Physical Therapy and Tobacco Prevention programs. It also includes the construction of the new south wing that will house the clinical, dental, physical therapy and pharmacy programs and associated offices.

The second phase of the project was scheduled to be complete June 12, 2014 but that date is now the first week in July. Once completed the dislocated programs will move into the new digs with a bit of dedication fanfare.

Then work will begin on phase-three of the project that includes, among other things, remodeling of the remaining northern section that will house Behavioral Health and the Diabetes programs as well as the administrative offices. The third-phase is scheduled to began June 27 and be completed by December 11, 2014.

Construction workers are preparing the dental operation room for drywall application. (B.L. Azure photo) Construction workers are preparing the dental operation room for drywall application. (B.L. Azure photo)

The 18-month, $5 million project is funded by revenue Tribal Health collects from third-party reimbursements for health care services it provides at its five clinics.

The new St. Ignatius THHS Clinic will have 37,000 square feet that include 14,800 square feet of new construction; 14,800 square feet of extensive remodeled floor space; and 7,400 square feet of existing floor space with minor remodeling. All floor space will have new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system installed. A new roof will be cap the entire structure.

MacArthur, Means and Wells Architects, PC (MMW) of Missoula is the project architectural design firm. MMW’s Colin Lane is the lead architect and oversight manager of the project.

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