Health | Politics

Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation secures transfer of IHS property

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital in Bethel, Alaska. Photo by Tiffany Beardslee via Wikipedia

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation of Alaska will be able to move forward with a $250 million renovation and expansion project thanks to a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

S.230 requires the Indian Health Service to convey the 23-acre site of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital and other facilities in Bethel to the corporation. Congressional action was required because the property couldn't have been transferred under existing laws governing surplus property.

"This land transfer brings YKHC one step closer to building a new primary care clinic and renovating our existing hospital, which will improve the quality, reliability and access to health care for the people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta," CEO and President Dan Winkelman said in a press release after the bill cleared the House by a voice vote on September 16. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent in June.

An artist's rendering of what the new Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital in Bethel, Alaska, might look like. Image from YKHC / Facebook

Work on the project, which includes a new 130,000 square-foot primary care facility that will be attached to the existing hospital, is proceeding as part of the joint venture construction program at the IHS. Once an agreement is finalized, YKHC will pay for construction and IHS will secure federal funding for staffing, operation and maintenance once it's complete.

The 100,000 square-foot hospital was built in 1980 but lacks sufficient space and staffing to treat all of its patients. Services include a medical-surgical ward, a pediatric ward, an obstetric ward, an emergency room, a pharmacy and a lab.

Other facilities on the campus in Bethel include a community health clinic, a respite center and a patient hostel.

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