Jicarilla Apache Nation opens new health center

The Indian Health Service and the Jicarilla Apache Nation of New Mexico dedicated a new $10.5 million replacement health care facility on Monday.

The facility, located in Dulce, will serve approximately 4,000 Indians in the Jicarilla service area. Health and Human Services Secretary Secretary Tommy G. Thompson attended the dedication ceremony.

"This health center will increase access to health care services for Tribal members living in remote areas of northern New Mexico," Thompson said. "This will help better address the healthcare needs and improve the health status of the area's tribal population."

The new 65,000-square-food health center replaces the existing 6,500-square-foot facility that consisted of a health center and maintenance building built in 1963, and several temporary buildings. It is named NZH�O N A�CH�IDLE�EE, which means, "A place to get well" in the Apache language.

The center will provide space for comprehensive educational, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health service programs, and it will incorporate all available high-tech distance medical services via computer access. It is projected that the new facility will provide over 15,000 primary care provider visits annually and will add approximately 40 new positions to the current staff of 50 employees. The hours of operations will also be expanded from 5 days a week to 7 days a week.

The facility is the result of a unique agreement between the tribe and IHS. Under a formal Joint Venture Construction Program (JVCP) Agreement, the tribe designed and built the replacement facility, which is tribally-owned.

In return, the IHS provides the initial equipment for the health center and leases the facility from the tribe under a no-cost 20-year lease. During this period, a request for funding for the staffing and operation is made in the same manner as for federally constructed health care facilities.

"This facility demonstrates the successful exercise of self-determination by the Jicarilla Apache Nation and their dedication to improving the quality of health care services provided to their members," stated Dr. Charles W. Grim, Director of IHS. "It also reflects the commitment of President George W. Bush, the HHS, and the IHS to the goal of eliminating health disparity rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives."

Relevant Links:
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