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St. Ignatius THHS Clinic will temporarily close down to accommodate move to new wing

By B.L. Azure

The exterior of the new wing of the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic is beginning to resemble its architectural rendering and will soon be open for business. (B.L. Azure photo) The exterior of the new wing of the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic is beginning to resemble its architectural rendering and will soon be open for business. (B.L. Azure photo)

ST. IGNATIUS — The second phase of construction of the new wing of the St. Ignatius Tribal Health and Human Services Clinic is nearly complete and plans are currently being made to facilitate the relocation of programs into the new digs.

“We are approaching the completion of the second phase of the St. Ignatius Clinic construction project. It has been a long process but we are near the finish line,” Tribal Health Director Kevin Howlett said of the construction and remodeling of the more than 50-year-old clinic. The second phase of the three-phase project will be completed by the first week in July and as a result the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic will have to be shutdown to allow for programs to move into the new wing. “Selected programs will have to shutdown to make the transition from the old facility to the new one. We ask for the public’s patience during this shutdown and we are looking forward to providing an expanded level of care in this new facility.”

All clinical health care services delivered at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic will be temporarily closed from Thursday, July 10, through Tuesday, July 15, to allow for staff, programs and equipment relocation into the new wing of the clinic. It will reopen Wednesday, July 16.

Following the move there will be dedication ceremonies and open house, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5 and Wednesday, Aug. 6. Time and details will be announced.

This clinical health care services affected includes Pharmacy, Dental, Behavioral Health, X-ray, Optometry and the administrative services provided in that facility such as patient registration.

It is advised that people who take care of their health care needs, including pharmacy, at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic be aware of the temporary closure and to schedule appointments and prescription refills accordingly.

The other Tribal Health clinics in Arlee – 726-3224; Ronan – 676-8778; Polson – 883-5541; and Elmo – 849-5798; as well as the Community Health Representative office in Hot Springs – 741-3266; will remain open.

Tribal Health Director Kevin Howlett and administration staffers Yvonne Conko, Nikki Trahan and Denise Morigeau recently toured the new wing of St. Ignatius THHS Clinic that is scheduled for completion in early July. (B.L. Azure photo) Tribal Health Director Kevin Howlett and administration staffers Yvonne Conko, Nikki Trahan and Denise Morigeau recently toured the new wing of St. Ignatius THHS Clinic that is scheduled for completion in early July. (B.L. Azure photo)

Howlett has directed increased Urgent Care and drop in appointments at the other facilities to ensure continued access during this temporary closure of the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic. All THHS staff will be assisting to ensure a smooth transition and the highest quality of care for our patients.

“We ask people to try and schedule services accordingly,” Howlett said. “We will continue to provide health care services at all other Tribal Health clinics locations except for St. Ignatius in this time of transition.”

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 and offer alternatives for health care services in situations like the temporary closure.

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, Veterans Affairs and Healthy Montana Kids, among others.

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. It also includes the construction of the new south wing.

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.

Tribal Health maintenance crewmembers Jim Keenan and Dewey Schliep clear away some trees at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic in preparation for the third phase of the construction and remodel project. (B.L. Azure photo)   Tribal Health maintenance crewmembers Jim Keenan and Dewey Schliep clear away some trees at the St. Ignatius THHS Clinic in preparation for the third phase of the construction and remodel project. (B.L. Azure photo)

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 July 21, and be completed by December 2014.

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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